by Liam Ridolfi

Year:  2023

Director:  Lillah Halla

Release:  11 July 2024

Running time: 99 minutes

Worth: $13.00
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Revelation Perth International Film Festival

Ayomi Domenica Dias, Loro Bardot, Onna Silva, Heloisa Pires

… a captivating exploration of the female experience, one that is compellingly driven by both setting and character.

Lillah Halla’s intimately sensitive feature debut hones in on the provocative themes of young women’s health and the LGBTQ community in Brazil, and achieves an emotionally resonant – albeit predictably unsurprising character piece.

Power Alley follows 17-year-old volleyball player Sofia (played magnetically by Ayomi Domenica Dias) as she discovers that she is pregnant immediately before being offered an athletic scholarship. As her efforts to get an abortion follow, the environment around her seems to become the film’s malevolent omniscient enemy.

As an isolated character study, Power Alley succeeds at humanising an already sympathetic protagonist – thanks in no small part to Dias in the lead role. Her performance is endlessly watchable as her vulnerability seeps through every frame, as she slowly becomes the victim of the evils plaguing the world that she grew up in.

Whilst Dias and Halla do an exceptional job at ushering us through our hero’s journey, the story itself lacks significant uncertainty. As Halla repeatedly focuses on ambiguously interesting elements of Sofia’s world (from a sensitively concentrated close-up of a honey pour to an elongated shot of a noisy ultra-sound), it becomes evident that Halla is attempting a unique and thought-provoking perspective. However, while she certainly succeeds in presenting a milieu that feels rich in both character and palpability, it ultimately suffers under a plot that is disappointingly formulaic.

The beats of Sofia’s journey feel familiar of the genre and if you’ve seen other films that tackle the subject matter (like Natalie Morales’ Plan B, among others) you can pretty much guess where it’s all going. This is disappointing as Halla’s vision is undeniably confident and provocative in moments – particularly in both its condemnation of pro-life Brazilians and its celebration of the Brazilian queer community.

Nevertheless, in a familiar genre, Power Alley stands on its own through its unique setting and central performance. Together, Halla and Dias produce a captivating exploration of the female experience, one that is compellingly driven by both setting and character.


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