Motel Destino review – terrifically acted Brazilian erotic noir thriller

Last Updated: June 16, 2024By
An Intense Night at Motel Destino

As motel names go, “Destino” is definitely more intriguing than “Bates”. But for our hero and heroine, fate has a cruel way of shaping their lives through class, money, and family issues. “Motel Destino” is an erotic noir thriller directed by Karim Aïnouz, filled with bright sunlight and vivid shots by Hélène Louvart. This story unfolds in a rough and functional love motel near the beach in Ceará, a state in northeastern Brazil. Here, our couple is destined to be thrown out naked, just like Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.


A Fateful Encounter

Co-written by Wislan Esmeraldo and Mauricio Zacharias, “Motel Destino” is a leaner and meaner movie compared to Aïnouz’s previous works. Heraldo, played by Iago Xavier, is a young man working for a drug-dealing matriarch along with his brother. His brother is trying to stop him from leaving their neighborhood to try his luck in São Paulo.


Their latest task is to collect a debt from a European businessman. But Heraldo sneaks away to take a young woman he just met to Motel Destino. The motel is a place where the sounds of sexual ecstasy echo through the walls like moans of lost souls. The bills are paid through a nasty little hatch in each room. When Heraldo returns to his employer’s villa, he finds chaos and carnage. His boss suspects his absence was too convenient and believes Heraldo might be planning something with the businessman.


Hiding Out

Heraldo has to hide, and the only place is the creepy Motel Destino, where no one stays long and no questions are asked. He begs for sanctuary and is reluctantly let in, in exchange for doing odd jobs. Plus, he’s pretty attractive to both the manager Elias (Fábio Assunção) and his wife Dayana (Nataly Rocha). Heraldo starts a dangerous and tender affair with Dayana, who shows him a gentleness he has never known. The fact that Dayana has been abused by Elias only adds fuel to their passion.

A Strange Place

The motel is a bizarre place. Heraldo has to help clean the rooms daily, dealing with soiled sheets and replacing sex toys. He also has to handle the drunken, leering attention of Elias, who keeps two donkeys on the property. Watching the donkeys mate is a fierce, unsentimental commentary on all the sex happening around them. Elias likes to watch his guests, part prison guard, part voyeur.

Powerful Performances

The film features strong performances from its central trio. Their physical performances are raw, sensual, and fragile, making the film intense and captivating.

In conclusion, “Motel Destino” is an intense thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s a story of love, betrayal, and survival in the strangest of places.

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