Mars One review – subtle and compelling slice-of-life drama

By Lori Meek
Published: January 6, 2023 (Last updated: January 27, 2024)


It’s a compelling and relatable piece about an everyday family dealing with day-to-day struggles.

We review the Netflix film Mars One, which does not contain any significant spoilers.

Brazil’s official Academy Awards selection, Mars One (original title: Marte Um), dropped on Netflix. The film’s been making its way around the festival circuit after premiering at Sundance in January of last year and earning several accolades in the process. Written and directed by Gabriel Martins, this slice-of-life drama centers on a working-class Black family and the all-too-relatable challenges they face after a troubling presidential election. 

Mars One review and plot summary

In the aftermath of far-right president Jair Bolsonaro being elected in late 2018, a tight-knit lower-middle-class family is making their way in this new political climate. Wellington (Carlos Francisco), the family’s patriarch, works as a caretaker in a fancy apartment building and dreams of one day seeing his son become a professional football player. His wife, Tércia (Rejane Faria), loves looking after her family but starts experiencing some distressing symptoms after being the victim of a horrible television prank. The son, Deivinho (Cícero Lucas), isn’t keen on becoming an athlete and instead wants to pursue a career in science and one day go on a mission to Mars. Eunice (Camilla Damião), the oldest daughter, is a university student who’s thinking of moving in with her new girlfriend, but she’s not yet ready to tell her parents about her sexuality. 

Mars One is a quiet and subtle piece. The family centering the narrative is likable and their struggles are relatable. While the film is set against a political backdrop, politics have little to do with the story. The characters are too busy living their lives and trying to stay on top of their bills. The close-ups and the way the camera follows the characters intimately present each family member as an individual with their unique views and trials. 

While all the cast members give strong performances, Rejane Faria stands out with her portrayal of Tércia. After being stuck in the middle of a television prank in which a man pretends to set off an explosive at a diner, the family’s matriarch experiences some issues with her mental well-being. She’s not sleeping, she suffers from anxiety and starts getting headaches. The actress gives a compelling performance as a woman trying to keep up appearances while suffering internally. 

Sibling rivalry seems to be a common trope in many films, yet the brother and sister duo in Mars One is the opposite of that. Eunice and Deivinho listen to each other, encourage each other, and are each other’s confidants. The young woman tells her brother about her girlfriend before even thinking about discussing her sexuality with her parents. And when Deivinho confesses his true aspirations to his sister, he is met with nothing but encouragement. 

Is the movie Mars One on Netflix good?

There’s a lot to like about Mars One. It’s a compelling and relatable piece about an everyday family dealing with day-to-day struggles. There are no over-the-top dramatic moments, and the film is a bit slow while the plot doesn’t get a definitive resolution. Yet, there’s a certain artistry in showing life as it is – complicated. 

What did you think of the Netflix film Mars One? Comment below.

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