A herd of brawny bulls, raging in their enclosure and ready to charge furiously into the arena, where they will inevitably be pulled to the ground. Throughout Neon Bull, the Brazilian director Gabriel Mascaro deploys this allegory of the mad ambition titillated then disappointed when Brazil’s economic boom loses steam. A smoke screen, the dust churned up by hooves? Amidst these fine beasts, we discern the equally splendid, rugged figure of a man who is the mainstay of a small group that lives off the enthusiasm for the traditional vaquejadas, a type of rodeo found in north-east Brazil. In this improvised family, the cowboy is as gentle as a lamb and dreams of becoming a dress designer, whereas his blond female co-worker is the grouser who repairs the truck. Yet this wilful turnaround of stereotypes is overshadowed by the starkly down-to-earth route followed by these endearing characters, holding on to each other through changing moods, between melancholy and humour. The desire to make a success of one’s life finds its echo in a more immediate desire, kindled by the perfume of bodies, in an irresistible sensory and sensual crescendo.