Among modern themes that have become universal for all cultures lies the idolization of the automobile. This feature really brings about the interaction of man and wheeled machine as both symbiotic and antagonistic. There’s a little bit of innocence lost and coming of age. There’s an environmental message against industrialism that is used mostly as the background theme so how effective is rather debatable, but nevertheless it is present. There’s a certain theatric flare that almost emulates that of a musical in the execution.
King Car (2021) is directed by Renata Pinheiro who wrote the screenplay with Sergio Oliveira and Leo Pyrata. Uno (Luciano Pedro Jr) has had the ability to talk to cars since he was a young kid, playing around in the vehicles of his father’s taxi company. After his mom is the victim of a tragic car accident, Uno grows up and goes into agriculture despite his father’s wishes that he take over the taxi company. However, after the government declares all vehicles older than 15 years old are not fit for circulation and his father ends up in the hospital, Uno and his uncle Zé (Matheus Nachtergaele) decide to revamp one of the taxis where Uno’s mother had her accident into a futuristic car, capable of talking and dubbed King Car.
You have to first recognize the innocence of the initial premise. I’d call this more of a fantasy than actual science fiction. Vehicles in this world are in the background always, having their own agenda and their own motivations. The film initially portrays the relationship between human and automobile as benign, almost symbiotic. But there’s warnings up ahead, and eventually confrontation. There is a message against the false promises of overzealous capitalism and status as well as corrupt politics and lack of human compassion. I do love the cinematography and the use of colour in the background sets but the environmental vs technology message feels handled in a somewhat theatrical way.
Recommended with some reservations. There’s a lot of the message here to unwrap, but at its core we have a rather innocent story about a world falling under the seduction of the automobile heaven only to be awakened to a fantasy where the machine is the antagonist. There’s a few things that are left to the imagination of the audience, but the idea of resistance to technology finally emerges as the central theme. Sometimes it seems to lean more into style than substance, using its themes more for dramatic effect. Whether it remains compelling enough I’m still on the fence about.
That will do for now.