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Civil War: A24 film highlights weaknesses in the political debate

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

On April 18, the film Civil War, by independent production company A24, premiered in Brazilian cinemas. With Wagner Moura, the movie portrays the work of a team of journalists who travel across the United States to show a civil war that has started.

Civil War, which premiered in the United States almost a week earlier, on April 12, debuted first at the country’s box office. In the US, in just three days of screening, the film had already grossed US$25.7 million, becoming A24’s best debut – surpassing the previous owner of the studio’s record, the 2018 horror Hereditary, which grossed US$ 13.6 million.

Still about records, last weekend, according to Collider, the production already raised more than US$50 million from tickets. Thus, it is behind only Everything in Every Place at the Same Time, another A24 production, from 2022, which brought in US$77 million.

In addition to Wagner Moura, the production by Alex Garland (known for his work on Ex_Machina, from 2014) features other well-known names, such as Kirsten Dunst (from the first Spider-Man and Marie Antoinette trilogy), Cailee Spaeny (who became known for Priscilla), Stephen McKinley Henderson (from the Dune series and Manchester by the Sea), among others. Together, the cast works to make the dystopian thriller show the moment when a civil war breaks out in the United States.

Without spoilers, the feature film portrays a team of war journalists, with Lee (Kirsten Dunst) and Joel (Wagner Moura), who travel across the territory to record the situation that has taken over the country’s streets in an unrestrained manner. Based on this, the scenario is very well portrayed through the journalistic perspective of someone who, in addition to experiencing the moment, also needs to report on it.

Portrait of the current socio-political scenario

In light of the invasion of the US Capitol, in January 2021, the battle in which Garland places the viewer is more than intense, exploring a hornet’s nest of American anxieties and afflictions (and, often, international, taking into account the January 8 in Brazil, with the destruction of the Planalto Palace).

During the film’s promotion, in an interview with CBS, a North American television network, the director pointed out that the film is a “product of polarization and division”. For him, “Unless we come to our senses, our polarized, divisive and non-communicative situation will continue.”

Furthermore, by becoming a robust declaration of affection for democracies, the film talks about the importance of journalistic work, objectivity, truthfulness, and courage. Therefore, by portraying this profession that, due to GPT Chat and fake news, is so often discouraged, it shows the difficulties of the role, the emotional impacts in the face of harsh war scenarios, and the duality between information and the exploitation of news.

The journalist’s work

As mentioned, when portraying journalistic work in the face of a civil war, the film does not fail to show how the emotions of its protagonists – communication professionals – were shaken.

In several conflict scenes, we see photojournalist Lee (Kirsten Dunst), trying to photograph the moments, without showing great commotion, just fulfilling her role. Despite being essential to the profession, this position can cause some discomfort to the public since, even in the face of death, Lee continues to act solely as a photographer.

It is in this context that the other great female character, Jessie (Cailee Spaeny), asks Lee – who becomes a kind of mentor to the aspiring woman – if, when that situation, which was doomed to failure, ended with Jessie being shot, It would be professional to photograph the moment. The way this dialogue unfolds, with aspects throughout the film, is a punch in the gut for any viewer – but especially for communicators.

The spotlight only finds Wagner Moura

As the protagonist for the first time in a Hollywood feature, Wagner Moura has taken international cinemas by storm, becoming – even – more noticed. His character, who works as a reporter, is ironic, eccentric, acidic, and seductive, with an emotional state as shaken as Lee’s, being portrayed through his addictions and immature moments.

In 2013, with fellow Brazilian Alice Braga, the actor made his debut in foreign cinema in the science fiction film Elysium. However, it was only the following year, when he became Pablo Escobar, in the Netflix series Narcos, that his name began to be placed among teams and international audiences.

Since then, however, Moura has been looking for characters that go beyond the preconceptions of Latin Americans, escaping their stereotypes. Thus, in 2019, he participated in Wasp: Spy Network, by Sérgio, in 2020, and the series Mr. and Mrs. Smith, in 2024, where he shares the screen with Donald Glover and Maya Erskine.

In Civil War, the actor finally achieves his goal, since Joel, the journalist he plays, is an American man, with no connection to any Latin American country. Wagner Moura was thus able to abandon any stereotype to which he was linked, taking advantage and playing with his performance.

It’s not new that Brazilian actors have been gaining more and more notoriety in international cinema, as names like Sônia Braga, Alice Braga, and Rodrigo Santoro have been known for years. However, when a name gains even more prominence, as in the case of Moura, the Brazilian public must celebrate together, as more paths are taken and more opportunities are provided.


The article above was edited by Beatriz Gatz.

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Fernanda Alves

Casper Libero '25

Future journalist, writer in training and lover of culture.