A blistering performance by Yara de Novaes, volatile, and poignant all at once, is the magnetic centerpiece of Brazilian filmmaker Pedro Freire’s passionate and intensely moving feature debut. Novaes stars as Malu Rocha, a free-spirited actress approaching middle age and constantly at odds with the world and herself. Living with a conservative, religious mother (Juliana Carneiro da Cunha) who fears that Malu’s anti-authoritarian, bohemian approach to life is indicative of a mental breakdown, and reconnecting with a grown daughter (Carol Duarte) who has returned from a stint in France and is also pursuing an artistic life, Malu has idealistic plans to transform her modest home into an arts center for poor local kids. Yet Malu’s erratic behavior and recurrent, explosive battles with her brittle mother leave her vulnerable to a confusing, sometimes cruel world. Based on the life of the director’s mother, Malu is a profoundly felt study of a woman with an all-consuming, unstable love, directed with an intense force to match its unforgettable protagonist.