‘Neurotic Quest for Serenity’ chronicles the search for peace of mind, personal power

“Neurotic Quest for Serenity” (“Transfornada Obsessiva Compulsiva”) (2018). Cast: Tatá Werneck, Vera Holtz, Bruno Gagliasso, Luis Lobianco, Daniel Furlan, Pedro Wagner, Mário Gomes, Patricya Travassos, Ingríd Guimarães, Luciana Paes. Directors: Paulinho Caruso and Teodoro Poppovic. Screenplay: Paulinho Caruso and Teodoro Poppovic, with Pedro Aguilera, Tatá Werneck, Mauricio Bouzon and Tainá Muhringer. Source Collaborators: Daniel Duncan, Gustavo Suzuki and Hell Ravani. Web site. Trailer.

Peace of mind can be elusive, especially when we feel overwhelmed by everything happening around us – or to us. As the pressure mounts, we may begin to feel ourselves fraying at the edges as the stress creeps deeper and deeper into our being. And we can only tolerate these circumstances for so long before they finally take a toll on us, leading to anxiety or weariness and possibly even a meltdown. So it is for an overburdened actress seeking to keep it all together in the manic Brazilian farce, “Neurotic Quest for Serenity” (“Transfornada Obsessiva Compulsiva”), now available on video on demand.

Kika K (Tatá Werneck) feels like she’s coming apart at the seams. The popular Brazilian telenovela star tries to manage a full plate of commitments, a challenge made difficult by her hyper-aggressive agent, Carol (Vera Holtz), who constantly books her client for acting and publicity gigs, sometimes without informing her until the last minute. But, if that weren’t bad enough, Kika also suffers from OCD, as well as an overactive imagination and vivid dreams, all of which have started sneaking their way into her perceptions of everyday reality.

Kika realizes she must get a handle on her life, but she has no idea how. It’s a frustrating conundrum made comically ironic by Carol’s surprise announcement that she’s arranged for her client to participate in a promotional tour for a self-help book that bears her name, a title of which Kika was completely unaware, penned by an enigmatic ghost writer (Pedro Wagner). In addition to all her other responsibilities, Kika must now prepare for book signings and media appearances, such as a guest spot on a TV talk show featuring popular celebrity host Ana Juliana (Luciana Paes), to plug a book about which she knows virtually nothing despite the presence of her name on the cover.

To complicate matters, Kika must also contend with other challenges, such as the constant advances of her oversexed co-star, Caio Astro (Bruno Gagliasso), the incessant stalking of an obsessed, portly fan, Felipão (Luis Lobianco), and the conniving sniping and machinations of a rival actress, Ingrid (Ingrid Guimarães). Considering all this, it’s a wonder she’s been able to hold things together as well as she has for as long as she has.

Things reach a tipping point, however, when Kika loses it at a book signing. Fortunately, a milquetoast-esque bookstore employee, Vladimir (Daniel Furlan), comes to her rescue, a kindly gesture that she’s not especially appreciative of at first. But, once she starts coming to her senses, Kika realizes she’s found an unlikely knight in shining armor, one who sets her on the path of sorting out her life. Of course, given all the challenges she’s been facing, the road to serenity going forward continues to be riddled with potholes that make her journey an odyssey full of adventure and lunacy.

Telenovela star Kika K (Tatá Werneck, left) seeks solace from the craziness in her life with introverted bookstore employee Vladimir (Daniel Furlan, right) in the Brazilian screwball comedy, “Neurotic Quest for Serenity” (“Transfornada Obsessiva Compulsiva”).

Will Kika achieve the tranquility she seeks? That remains to be seen. But, if it’s to happen, she needs to make some changes to reshape her reality, all of which start with her.

So how did Kika’s life become so topsy-turvy in the first place? Strange as it may sound to some, she brought it upon herself through the conscious creation process, the philosophy that maintains we manifest the reality we experience through the power of our thoughts, beliefs and intents. But, one might ask, why would anyone purposely create an existence like the one Kika experiences?

As I’ve written in the past, why we create what we create is up to each of us; our reasons are our own, and they’re really nobody’s business to question. We can speculate about what’s involved, though, in most cases, our experiences are generally related to learning specific life lessons, and Kika is no exception.

When the foregoing is taken into consideration, it’s apparent that much of what Kika is going through is related to the management of her personal power. In creating the career she’s built for herself, she’s obviously been quite successful in manifesting her professional accomplishments. She’s given herself the attributes needed to attain that, such as acting talent and physical beauty, and those qualities have placed her in great demand (witness the advances of her co-star and her stalker, the many producers eager to hire her, and the jealous glaring of her rival).

Based on this, Kika has apparently done quite an effective job at managing her power-related beliefs. But what accounts for the rest of her life? She’s so put upon by the other influences in her life that she’s overcome by them and in danger of sinking fast. This comes from giving away one’s power, a commodity that Kika desperately needs to retrieve if she doesn’t want to be consumed by these vampiric elements in her life.

Of course, Kika won’t know what it’s like to get her power back unless she creates the opportunity to engage in such an experience (hence the mayhem that surrounds her). She also benefits from the assistance she receives from having a grounding influence in her life, something that accounts for Vladimir’s presence. Even though he has challenges of his own to contend with, he helps Kika get her groove back.

In retrieving our personal power, a key component of this process is deciding on, and then affirming, what we want for ourselves. That might sound simple enough, but it must become rooted in our thoughts, beliefs and intents. Merely relegating it to a passing notion, unfortunately, places it in the realm of wishful thinking, a weaker and largely uncommitted expression of this idea, one that’s unlikely to become grounded and subsequently materialize.

This is an area in which Kika needs to do some work, particularly where her beliefs are concerned. Part of the reason why she lacks the serenity she seeks is that she’s personally unsettled about what she really wants. This would account for her overactive imagination, vivid dreams and OCD, all of which reflect her scattered mindset and rampant indecisiveness, as well as her inability to settle on what she most wants to pursue. Whittling down her options and eliminating the possibilities she sees as unrealistic are essential, but certainty in this regard is unlikely unless she’s willing to make an earnest effort.

This insanely hilarious search for the meaning of life plays like a cross between “Hector and the Search for Happiness” (2014) and “Welcome to Me” (2014).  This screwball comedy moves along at a break-neck pace from the outset and never lets up with its outrageous, off-the-wall humor and bizarre, colorful visuals. This directorial feature film debut from Paulinho Caruso and Teodoro Poppovic won’t appeal to everyone, but, for those who like their comedies with an edge, this one is definitely for you. What a wild ride it is!

Life can be funny, but sometimes it’s no laughing matter. Finding the right balance between the two makes for a happy (and fun-filled) medium. That’s perhaps one way of looking at each of our personal quests for serenity. But let’s hope the search includes beliefs that are amendable and manageable – and by no means neurotic.

Copyright © 2018-19, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.

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