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Film / A Wolf At The Door

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A Wolf At The Door ("O Lobo Atrás da Porta" in portuguese) is a 2014 brazilian drama film directed and written by Fernando Coimbra.

The film's plot concerns a child kidnapping in Rio de Janeiro. Sylvia (Fabiula Nascimento) goes to her daughter Clara's school to pick her up, only to find out that she's not there. The teacher tells her that someone phoned her earlier in the day, claiming to be her calling sick and that a neighbor would come pick her up.

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The police is called in to solve the kidnapping. and begins interrogating both Sylvia and the teacher to find out what's going on. Once Sylvia's husband Bernardo (Milhem Cortaz) arrives at the station for questioning, he confesses that he'd been having an extramarital affair with a woman named Rosa, who he strongly suspects is responsible for abducting his daughter. Rosa (Leandra Leal) is brought in as well, and is recognized by both the teacher and Sylvia, though the latter knows her by a different name and expresses surprise at the idea that she might be involved.

Through the statements of all the parties involved, the sordid story of passion, jealousy and betrayal surrounding the kidnapping is brought to light.


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A Wolf At The Door contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Rosa tries to present herself as a well-meaning and genial friend to Sylvia, when in reality she's her husband's lover and in all likelihood trying to ingratiate herself into Bernardo's life to eventually get him to abandon them. Bernardo himself also tries to present himself as a fun-loving and caring lover to Rosa, but he proves multiple times that he only really cares about himself, culminating in him tricking Rosa into going into an abortion clinic with him, and having an abortion performed on her against her will.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Literally. In a scene early into the film, Bernardo is telling the officer about his affair and Rosa's unstable behavior towards the end. He recalls that during one of their encounters, she told him about a small gun she'd bought, which severely unnerved him as he asked her what she meant to do with it. She later uses that same gun to kill Clara.
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  • Despair Event Horizon: Rosa hits this hard after Bernardo tricks her into getting an abortion against her will, and then refuses to see her again. This leads her to kill Clara in retaliation; she claims to not regret it, and that furthermore, she doesn't care about what will happen to her as a result.
  • Downer Ending: Rosa eventually reveals that Bernardo, after abusing and lying to her multiple times, tricked her into getting an abortion, and wouldn't even meet up to talk with her afterwards. As revenge, she abducted his daughter and killed her in a vacant lot, burning the corpse with alcohol. The film ends with the police officer's voice over describing Rosa's final statement on the matter: she feels no regret for what she's done, and fully accepts the consequences of her actions. She doesn't want a lawyer, doesn't want anyone's forgiveness, and doesn't care at all about what will happen to her afterwards.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The man who Bernardo was based on did cheat on his wife, but as far as we know he didn't abuse his lover or trick her into getting an abortion.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Once she finds out she is pregnant, Rosa tells Bernardo that he can go on living his life without worrying about what'll happen to her, but that she isn't giving up the baby no matter what he says. It ends up not mattering since Bernardo ends up tricking her into getting an abortion, claiming that he was worried about her and just wanted her to make sure that she was actually pregnant.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Both Rosa and Bernardo are revealed to be this. While Rosa is shown to be a manipulative, dishonest and unstable person and ultimately the one who comes off worse for killing an innocent child for revenge, Bernardo is still shown to be an awful and selfish man, cheating on his wife of several years with a much younger woman, lying to Rosa about his marriage and family when they first meet, hitting and sexually abusing her when he finds out that she's been visiting his family behind his back, and tricking her into getting their child aborted, which is what prompted Rosa to kill Clara. In the beginning of the film, he even tells the police officer that it was just casual sex with no strings attached.
  • May–December Romance: Bernardo is much older than Rosa, though we're not told exactly by how much (the actors themselves are 10 years apart).
  • Red Herring Twist: In the beginning of the film, statements by Bernardo and Rosa both suggest that Sylvia is having an affair, and that her lover's wife (a woman named "Bete") is an important part of what happened to Clara. When the police cannot find Bete, Rosa insists that she didn't lie, but rather that she didn't tell the whole story, which leads the audience to believe that even if she wasn't being 100% truthful, "Bete" still has a role to play in the story given how much attention has been paid to that plot point. It turns out that Rosa paid a random woman at a bar to call Bernardo pretending to be the spouse of Sylvia's lover in order to get back at him and potentially sabotage their relationship. Beyond that, "Bete" had no involvement in anything that happened. Rosa kidnapped Clara of her own will, and killed her to get revenge on Bernardo after he forced her to get an abortion and then left her.
  • The Easy Way or the Hard Way: The police officer who interrogates Rosa, upon being told about her initial lie regarding Bete, decides to invoke this to scare her. He tells her that if she doesn't cooperate, he will not hesitate to torture her to get her to confess what happened, because nobody is going to get up in arms about someone who'd harm a child.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The film's plot is roughly based on a real brazilian incident from the 1960's, with the characters' names being altered and various other changes made.
  • Woman Scorned: It turns out that Bernardo forced Rosa to get an abortion, and then essentially left her high and dry afterwards. Rosa is so consumed by her grief and anger that she kidnaps his daughter and kills her, and is so far gone at that point she is resigned to whatever fate awaits her as a result.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Rosa kills Clara after she's tricked into getting an abortion and left by Bernardo.
  • Your Cheating Heart: The crux of the plot is Bernardo and Rosa's affair. It's implied that Sylvia is also cheating on Bernardo in some fashion, but this is eventually subverted as it turns out it was just another one of Rosa's lies.
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