“Mars One” is Part Family Drama, Part Lesbian Romance, Entirely Wonderful

This Mars One review contains very mild spoilers. It was originally published, from Sundance, in January 2022. 

Tércia believes she is cursed. Jair Bolsonaro has just been elected and as the mother of a lower-middle class Black family in Brazil this would be bad enough. But after an absurd and traumatic experience she’s left even more shaken. All of a sudden bad things big and small seem to happen all around her.

Tércia (Rejane Faria) is one of four protagonists in writer/director Gabriel Martins’ stunning family drama Mars One. There’s Tércia’s husband Wellington (Carlos Francisco), four years sober and soccer-obsessed. Their son, Deivinho (Cícero Lucas), who is fulfilling his dad’s soccer ambitions while secretly dreaming of astrophysics. And then their daughter Eunice (Camilla Souza), a college student ready to leave home and even more ready to explore her sexuality.

The film is about the entire family — spending a near equal amount of time with each of them. But it never feels disjointed or crowded because their stories matter so much to one another and therefore matter to us. It’s because we spend so much time with Tércia and Wellington and Deivinho that Eunice’s story is able to accomplish something I’ve rarely if ever seen. Movies have often centered straight people’s reaction to their queer family member — this film lets us know the straight family intimately then centers the queer person’s experience of herself.

There’s a specificity to Eunice’s interactions with her family that reveal the stakes of their support. There’s an equal specificity in the love story with her girlfriend Jo. Their hotter than cute meet cute at a club, their dinner with Jo’s wealthy family, the way they love each other in the sort of impassioned yet insufficient way college students love. It all just feels so real. And it emphasizes that while Eunice’s relationship with her family is important, her relationship with Jo is too.

The conflict for Eunice becomes less that she’s gay and more that she wants to move out of her family’s home. Mars One accomplishes the rare feat of acknowledging the realities of heteronormativity while not slipping into painful clichés. Every member of Eunice’s family has a different reaction to her queerness, each feeling true to straight family while still being tender.

While all the relationships in the film are well-drawn, it’s the dynamic between Eunice and Deivinho that touched me the most. While Tércia is focused on necessities and Wellington is obsessed with his own dreams for his children, Eunice and Deivinho understand each other’s desires to make their own lives. Camilla Souza’s performance is excellent throughout the film but her scenes with Cícero Lucas are especially strong. Eunice is such a wonderful big sister and their moments together are sentimental without being cloying.

The whole film could be described that way. This is a film filled with struggle that never feels maudlin, hope that never feels forced.

Tércia is worried that she’s cursed. But what the film illustrates is how for some people in certain societies, the system is the curse. The world at large has the same casual cruelty as those who cause Tércia’s initial trauma. No matter how hard this family works, no matter how they budget, there will always be “bad luck” ready to ruin their plans.

But they have each other. And Eunice has Jo. And they have the day they’re living and the day to come.

This film doesn’t provide a hope that downplays the realities of Bolsonaro’s Brazil, of a country, like so many of our countries, defined by deep inequalities. It just shows all the love, all the beauty, all the possibility, that can still exist within those limitations. It’s an argument against those limitations. It’s a portrait of a family that deserves more than the Earth, more than this world.

Mars One is now streaming on Netflix

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. She is a Senior Editor at Autostraddle with a focus in film and television, sex and dating, and politics. Her writing can also be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, Into, them, and Knock LA. She was a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Notable Writer and a 2023 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about queer trans women. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Drew Burnett has written 521 articles for us.


  1. Before my vovó died-she cursed my mother and her children. She said she’d never amount to anything. But fuck, it’s not just my crazy family that’s been on each other’s backs but my late grandmother’s alcoholism, the manipulativeness of the man who took that heirchy over her while she was working as his maid, and all the other men too, who dislodged her emotions, leading her to take out the pain on my mamãe, including calling her a sapatao, fueling her internalized homophobia which she would take out on her child-an actual sapatao. It’s not just us, it’s everything.
    Sorry I just spiraled a little there. Thanks for this review Drew! This film sounds amazing!
    Also fuck Bolsonaro. Elections are this year and I hope he gets his ass kicked.

  2. thank you for this review! your writing is evocative as always. also i confess that even before i read the review i saw the byline and was like “GREAT DREW SAYS WATCH THIS MOVIE” and added it on netflix immediately. looking forward to it!

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!