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Perhaps the most brutal filmic portrait of youth ever made; Charles
Hieronymous Bosch in this tale of a group of boys struggling to survive in
reformatories and mean streets of Brazil as the cycle of prey transformed
The saddest detail is to realize that this film, made almost twenty five years ago, documents a world that in terms of its poverty and depravity, has apparently changed very little. A brutal reality captured here but with some of the most layered acting I've ever seen in the history of film by a group of amateurs picked from the streets of Sao Paulo with no previous experience. Not one or two good performances, the entire cast is quite simply remarkable, and even sadder is the fact that most of them have probably now been swallowed by the street life they portrayed.
Not as sophisticated a vision as Bunuel's 'Los Olvidados' or as sensational as Clarke's 'Kids,' but in this genre of 'children growing up in the streets' it is easily the most emotionally powerful film of them all.
"Pixote: A Lei do Mais Fraco" deals with what is perhaps the greatest
of all Brazilian themes: poverty. And along with poverty the other
unnatural feelings and actions it brings; prostitution, violence,
crime, rape and murder.
Brazil is the country of paradoxes, and its social problems are present everywhere. The difference between the rich and the poor; the beautiful and the ugly; happiness and the most profound human decay.
"Pixote" is one of the films that dare to touch and open these so painful wounds, and does it without the slightest glimmer of hope, in an honest portrayal of a country that, like Pixote himself, is already lost.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Pixote" concerns the (mis)adventures of the eponymous hero, a pre-adolescent boy in urban Brazil, abandoned by his parents, who first endures the horrors of a youth prison, and then those of life on the street. Filmed in a quasi-documentary style with real street kids instead of professional actors (for the most part), "Pixote" will leave the viewer utterly devastated at the end of its 2+ hours. It is particulary effective when it develops other characters as they are seen by Pixote, especially those of the streetwise transvestite homosexual Lilica and the aging alcoholic prostitute Sueli (unforgettably portrayed by Marilia Pera, one of the few pro actors in the cast), who become surrogate parents to the young boy in a kind of improvised family whose economy is based on mugging Sueli's clients. Both the tragic denoument (which comes at the end of a film in which tragedy follows tragedy, ad infinitum), and the final shot of Pixote playing alone on the railroad tracks with haunting accompanying music on the soundtrack, are unbearably poignant. A masterpiece.
The violent death of Fernando Ramos Da Silva only eight years after the
completion of this film, only adds to the poignancy of dierector BAbenco's
powerful message. The film is split into two halves - the first in a
reformatory where a group of youngsters are abused and violated by the
violent law enforcers and guardians. The second backdrop is the city where
they are confined instead by their own actions and morality, which includes
mugging, pimping and killing different characters who enter their lives.
The differing gender and sexual roles in the film allow for constant changes in the characters as they interact with other people. Particularly interesting is teh character of Lalica, a transvestite who is mother and lover to some of the children. Her reaction to the arrival of Sueli, a prostitute is both poignant and tragic.
There is no happy ending to this story and i reccomend to watch it with caution as there are some very uncomfortable scenes to watch especially in teh opening twenty minutes. But whilst watching it, it is important to remember that this is not just a fictional tale. The actors are not trained professionals but instead boys selected from the streetsof Sao Paulo. They actually lived this life that is portrayed so vividly on screen and in da Silva's case, died at the hands of the police who are depicted so brutally. A documentary? A piece of fiction. It borders on both but it certainly makes for heart wrenching material and is a film that actually leaves you breathless and thinking long after having watched it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I first saw Pixote over 20 years ago, and the thing that I always think
about the movie is how, when I was first watching it, my friend who was also
watching it nudged me and whispered "His face...look at his face", referring
to Fernando Ramos De Silva. "His face is growing harder, and older, and
angry...how do you ACT that?" It's true: watch the movie and you'll notice
that the face of Pixote becomes visibly more and more changed over time due
to the life that he lives. The see-saw of the "adult" means of which he's
forced by circumstance to live his life and the reality of being a boy, a
little boy alone, looking not only to survive but to gain at least a small
semblance of childhood that is pretty much a lost cause. I think the most
heart-rending scene is when he nurses at the breast of the prostitute - not
for sex, but because of his need to have a mother, to be only a baby nursing
at his mother's breast. You see that, and you also see that the prostitute
recognizes his suckling for what it is, and for a moment she accepts this,
and encourages this, until she remembers who she is, and that she is not
about to undertake raising a child. She then stops his nursing and sends
And that's just one moment out of so many in this movie. This is a film that, without being in the least exploitive, nonetheless throws doors open wide to let the viewer see exactly what exists on the streets of Brazil (reminding us that if it exists there, the chances are pretty good that the same sort of thing exists elsewhere). It doesn't show us anything but the truth. There's no need for embellishment - the actuality is sobering enough. It's a hard movie to watch. I haven't watched it since I've had children of my own - truthfully, I've been kind of afraid to. I will again, though. This movie is too, too good to see only once, even if once is all you think that you can stand.
This is no walk in the park. I saw this when it came out, and haven't had the guts to watch it again. You will never see a more horrifyingly devastating or depressing movie. I felt like I'd been severely beaten. What kind of world are we living in when we have children who are treated worse than garbage? This is our world, what we have created, what we have allowed to happen. And I would hesitate to say that I-ME-WE are not responsible for this. Babenco made this film to wake us up, to shake us to our very core, and he succeeded. How can we be cruel, or self-indulgent, or neglectful of our children, when we see the graphic results of such behavior? He is pointing a finger of accusation at us all for doing this to the lowliest and least powerful of our society. And if you aren't doing something each day to prevent it, then you are part of the problem. I am NOT a religious fanatic, but this movie made me think about the state of my soul.
This is a difficult movie to watch, and would have been even more difficult had I known then that the actor playing the protagonist was in fact killed in his home by police at age 19. Pixote (PeeWee) is a street kid in Sao Paulo who is caught in a roundup triggered by a murder in which he had no involvement. He is committed to a juvenile prison where he witnesses brutality and exploitation that ordinary citizens try very hard to believe doesn't exist. When finally he escapes, he and three comrades survive by the only means they know, which is crime. What makes the film so heart-rending is that both Pixote and the actor portraying him clearly do not wish to be the characters life circumstances have made them. Pixote tries to trust and to love and to bond, but there simply is no room in his world for the gentle side of human nature. One is left at the end wanting desperately to do something for the Pixotes of the world, but what? Building more children's's prisons with higher walls surely is not the answer...
Pixote is probably the most powerful film I have ever seen. An aspect so
rarely attained in most films is the gritty reality that Babenco exposes
with paramount ability and care. It truly will stay with you forever--you
will be touched in such a deep way no matter who you are, no matter where
you're from, no matter what movie genre you favor.
Considering that Da Silva's own life was one of the streets, leading to an early death at nineteen, when he was killed by corrupt cops in a drug raid, the film becomes all the more disturbing when we realize that Da Silva truly is Pixote in a circle of life imitating art imitating life.
With no reliable source of aide, these street kids are forced to exist at a most extreme disadvantage. The brutal truth in this film may be difficult to digest, but we can't turn a blind eye. Ultimately, words aren't strong enough to do this film justice, you'll have to experience it yourself.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The film opens with the director talking to the camera and saying he is
going to show a story about Brazilain street kids whose families live
in poverty and must steal and kill to survive. In fact the main
character (Pixote) was played by an actual street kid only 11 years
old. What follows was one of the most brutal, depressing and horrifying
film I've even seen. I saw it about 17 years ago (on a double bill with
"Black Orpheus") and have never forgotten it. I don't think I ever want
to see it again--it was just too much.
SPOILER AHEAD!!!! The scene which will not leave me is when Pixote meets a prostitute who has to abort her own fetus. You don't see her do it...but you get a quick glance at what she got out. It's almost 20 years later and just recalling that scene upsets me. SPOILER END!!!!!
The movie gets more brutal as it goes along and ends the only way it can. What's all the more harrowing is stories like this really did happen in Brazil in 1981...and are STILL happening today.
A harrowing brutal film...but it should be seen if you can handle it. I'm surprised this got an R rating--I've seen X rated film that are less graphic. A 10.
"Pixote" is the one of most powerful, shocking, and moving motion picture
come from Brazil. It's about the lives of street kids on the streets of
Paulo and Rio De Janeiro, and it centers around a ten-year-old boy. The
camera follows them around in an almost documentary style;from the
detention center (where most of the staff is as corrupt as the police) and
back to the streets, and it never turns away from the horrors of the city.
Prostitution, drug use/dealing, corruption, and murder are all witnessed
these youths; yet it's something they're painfully used to. Director
Babenco used real street kids as the actors, adding to the films brutal
reality. Although not for everyone, a film I highly recommend. An
emotionally devastating movie.
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