Netflix’s Brazilian film, ‘Carnaval’ is a rollicking comedy by Leandro Neri that explores the lives of four happy-go-lucky young modern women who through their journey to Bahia’s vibrant Carnival learn some life lessons. The film throws light on the pitfalls of the influencer culture and stresses on the need to prioritize genuine real-time friendships and connections over virtual ones to make life more meaningful.
Nina (Giovana Cordeiro) is an Instagram influencer in ‘Carnaval’ who lives by the likes and numbers of followers on the social media scene. Each moment is just a story meant to be captured in photos and hashtags to trend and rake in more and more followers.
She absolutely blitzes social media after a video of her equally popular boyfriend cheating on her goes viral. While she wallops the so-called heartbreak, her three close friends, each with their own eccentricities and insecurities, rally around her.
Her quest for 1 billion mark gets a boost when dumped by her boyfriend, she becomes the subject of a witty meme and is branded the “Crossfit Cuckold”.
As her following gets a fillip, she is invited to Bahian carnival in Al Salvador with fellow influencers by Freddy Nunes (Micael Borges), an upcoming Brazilian pop sensation, who is performing at the venue.
She negotiates with the sponsors for letting her friends accompany her to the carnival. She is sure that the trip would win her the much-needed follower base. All four hope to have a gala time, hobnobbing with the elite crowd of social media celebrities at the carnival.
Their hopes, however, are dashed as soon as they reach their destination. The sponsor’s pitch for an exclusive experience is just an eyewash.
Since Nina’s celebrity appeal is lower than other invitees, they are given a cheap tourist van to commute, a shabby hotel to stay and nerdy tourist guides to escort through the city.
However, it does not dampen their spirits as they quickly find their way to the five star luxury hotel next door, with Freddy cozying up with Nina.
When Salvador (Jean Pedro), their escort, takes them around the city, she comes to know him as a person. He makes her understand the importance of being real and enjoying the present. She is drawn towards him, but is soon pulled back into the world of media glare.
Desperate for followers, she continues to post daily to ascend the social ladder somehow. As things heat up with her rival influencer and idol Luana (Flavia Pavanelli), she starts getting distant from her friends.
To their bewilderment, she even tries to exclude them from her posts to avoid being embarrassed by their regular, boisterous behaviour.
Carnaval’s ending explained in detail:
Nina’s blitzkrieg at the ‘Carnaval’
Things move very fast towards the end with Nina gaining in stature as an influencer thanks to her loved-up pictures with Freddy, who invites her to accompany him at trio eletrico, a colossal, creeping stage, where he is going to perform his new hit single.
Desperate for fame, she let her friends go as the crowd caves in while walking towards the venue. As she dances at her dream venue next to Freddy with towering speakers blaring electrifying music posting her photos, her Instagram account hits 1 billion mark.
Nina’s moment of truth
Amassing such huge number of followers is a moment of pure ecstasy that she longs to share, but when she looks around, she has none to share it with. She then frets for her friends and feels lost in the sea of people.
She is especially scared for Mayra (Bruna Inocencio), who has a crowd paranoia since childhood. She throws away her crown, literally and figuratively, and throws herself in the crowd to find her friends in vain.
Then she decides to seek Freddy’s help, but in a rather unexpected twist, walks in on him and his manager, Jorge (Nikolas Antunes), kissing.
Instead of going hysterical about being used as a cover-up by him, she shows genuine empathy towards Freddy, who fears coming out of the closet. The strength of her character shines through as she gives him courage to face the fear of a backlash from fans. “Remember, whatever happens, you have to keep sailing.”
With the knowledge of the triviality of success and limelight, she plunges herself into the crowd again to look for her friends. As she fails, she decides to use her status as an influencer and starts a live stream to get to them and to convey how much they mean to her.
Though they are cross with her for deserting them earlier, they relent and finally give in to her requests for forgiveness.
The final resolution and embracing of destiny
Their lives have taken a turn for better during this journey, with Mayra having overcome her fear of crowds, the geeky Michelle (Gessica Kayane) having found her true soulmate, and Vivi (Samya Pascotto) having understood the thin line between love and infatuation.
When Nina spots Luana, who has fallen out of favour with the fans, she has a piece of advice for her too- to appreciate friends who have her back in trying times.
Nina seems happy in the company of the humble and grounded Salvador. Freddy admits to his romantic relationship with his manager publicly, and his friends seem happy for him. In a private gathering, calling Nina his muse, he dedicates a song to her.
The film ‘Carnaval’ ends with all of them enjoying him sing followed by a frolic dip of the four friends in the sea. Nina would never let her friends go ever again. She will, perhaps, continue her journey as an influencer on Instagram inspiring more and more followers to live in the moment and to appreciate the company of true friends.