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Private Desert (2021)

Daniel (Antonio Saboia) is a police officer on suspension, as the district that he works for conducts an internal investigation on an incident with which he was involved. With nothing else to do, Daniel finds himself looking for the love of his life, but that takes him away from his elderly father, on a seemingly never-ending journey that may not get him what he’s looking for. Daniel constantly finds himself isolated from the rest of the world, in his own Private Desert, but he refuses to stop until he has all that he’s looking for.


Early in Private Desert viewers see Daniel tending to his sickly father, doing whatever he can to make his father’s final days enjoyable. Daniel goes above and beyond, and I don’t think that anyone would question his loyalty, but that’s in the film’s opening act–an act that takes place entirely before the opening credits. As the film transitions into its second act, viewers see a different side of Daniel, not one that is generous, but rather one that is desperate–looking for that aforementioned love. Daniel is dynamic, and Saboia is tasked with bringing this multidimensional character to life. More than Daniel simply changing over time, it’s clear that all of these different pieces exist within him at all times, and Saboia does a beautiful job of allowing each of them to exist at once, never letting any piece of the character slip away.


Private Desert shifts drastically from act to act, and the narrative is a bit convoluted as a result, never really allowing viewers to know what is coming next, never letting them settle in and understand the purpose of the film–that is until Director Aly Muritiba wants them to. Drama, romance, mystery, and thrills each play a pivotal role in Private Desert, and each one of them finds viewers on their own terms and at the time that is best for the film. Everything is beautifully paced, nothing ever stepping on anything else’s toes or watering down any aspect of the film. This is a wonderfully constructed film that finds itself bleeding into a number of different genres, inviting a large group of viewers into its orbit and giving it a real shot to make it big.


At the heart of Private Desert, however, is a unique, twisted story that will surely frustrate a large group of individuals. While there are so many reasons to love this film, so many reasons why it should make its way to the mainstream and delight audiences everywhere, what the narrative eventually centers around is still considered taboo to many, still considered outside the realm of normalcy–and that will present Private Desert with challenges.


The film’s soundtrack doesn’t necessarily fit the overarching themes (except for Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler), but it fits with the ideas that Private Desert has the potential to be far reaching and appreciated by many (if they are willing to accept the heart and soul of the film). With that, Private Desert sees a number of interesting, ubeat, and downright fun songs help bring the story of Daniel to life. Again, the songs do sometimes feel a little out of place, but that adds to the fact that Private Desert is constantly evolving.


The narrative is constantly shifting in Private Desert, but it never loses viewers. Even with the drama, romance, mystery, etc. that exist throughout and become somewhat intertwined, Writers Henrique Dos Santos and Muritiba find ways to transition between topics smoothly, create suspense in appropriate ways, and develop a story that should be inviting to all. Saboia is incredibly talented, and he allows every emotion to rise to the surface. Furthermore, he works well to facilitate this story, drive the meaning behind each and every aspect of it home, and ensure that, regardless of how large or small the audience ends up being, they will appreciate what they see.


Directed by Aly Muritiba.


Written by Henrique Dos Santos & Aly Muritiba.


Starring Antonio Saboia, Pedro Fasanaro, Thomas Aquino, Laila Garin, Zezita Matos, etc.


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/10


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