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This 1983 remake of Gabriela, directed by Bruno Barretto, features THE
most sensuous performance of Sonia Braga on film--interesting,
considering she was in the 1976 original film, also as the title
character. But Barretto does things the previous director did not do,
and nails the story, as well as casting, also interestingly, Marcello
Mastrioanni as the Syrian Nacib who is entranced by Gabriela's obvious
femaleness. In what is very likely the most sensuous scene in
filmdom--or certainly one of them--he has her over a first floor
window. You can actually feel the room temperature rising around you
when this coupling is going on.
What it is that Barretto nails is the spirit of Jorge Amado's novel--that which captures the uncontrolled and uncontrollable desires of a woman who, as uneducated as she is, rules men with her looks. Nothing new there, but there's no other film like the 1983 Gabriela for "fleshing out" (you will, I am sure, pardon the pun) this concept.
The Mastrioanni-Braga chemistry is white hot and that's true not only for the coupling they do, but also for the arguments they have. Only when there is passionate love can there be passionate arguments, and they are definitely here, no question, making this a film that grabs you by the throat, and by the privates, and squeezes in a gentle way, until all you can finally do is gasp. And with good reason.
This is truly ripe for a DVD release. Where is it?????
Sonia Braga and Marcello Mastroianni are well-matched in this comedy set in
the coastal town of Ilheus, Brazil, in the 1920's. Mastroanni is a paunchy,
tired bachelor barkeeper who hires Braga, fresh out of the drought-stricken
backlands, to be his cook. He is delighted to find, after she has cleaned
herself up, that she is not only a terrific cook but also terrific in bed,
and that she sees him as a very cute, studly young guy. But when he
stubbornly tries to make their domestic arrangements into something more
respectable, things start going downhill. Will our boy wise up in
From Jorge Amado's novel, Gabriela: Clove and Cinnamon. Music composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim and arranged by Oscar Castro-Neves. Beautiful photography by Carlo di Palma. Lots of delightful small-town character humor.
This is the role that put Sonia Braga on the map when she played it on Brazilian TV in 1975. She was a sensation, and Gabriela was one of the highest-rated novelas ever aired in Brazil.
There is the contrast between the Syria of Nacib's father and the
Brazil of our movie's present. In Syria, barkeeper Nacib tells us, they
kill and mutilate sexy women, and he declares his sympathy with that
kind of treatment, but it seems that Brazil is a woman's country.
Gabriela is a fantasy of a completely unaffected, natural woman, who rises out of poverty and without education, but is completely confident of who she is with a marvelous natural grace, and is frankly open in her sexuality and lust for her employer Nacib, played by Marcello Mastroiani. But the pure femininity, I would like to call it innocence, of Sonia Braga's Gabriela, prevails. Such a character is probably only a man's fantasy, but it seems that nowhere more than Brazil would such a creature exist. And how Brazilian that not only is Gabriela, without comment, of unknown and obviously mixed race origins, but so is Nacib, who tells, after constant times of being called "Turk", that he is actually Italian, born of Syrian father and Italian mother.
Although this movie is fairly explicit sexually, it doesn't dwell on its sex scenes. It is its passion and Braga's beauty make this the sexiest mainstream flick I've seen, a heat-wave.
Gabriela, Clove & Cinnamon was the novel which marked Jorge Amado's break from pure class warfare--he received several Stalin prizes in his early career!--and embrace of the joys of Brazilian humanity. Sonia Braga has starred in adaptations of three of Amado's novels, all of them magnificent (the other two are Dona Flor and Tieta). I won't say she is here at her sexiest--Sonia Braga is sexy any time she's on screen--but this is one of her best movies, helped much by the other players, among them, curiously, Marcello Mastrioanni as the Syrian immigrant who hires Gabriela as cook and quickly finds himself in a deeper relationship. The plot here involves attitudes toward women and their sexuality, an eventual welcome breakdown of the double standard. and progress of law and order in a society too often ruled by lawlessness and custom. Amado dies without getting a Nobel Prize for Literature: Gabriela and the other two films mentioned convincingly demonstrate why he should have won it.
The romance between Gabriela, a beautiful rural woman (Sonia Braga) and
a Turkish businessman (Marcello Mastroianni) that confronted the prude
society of Bahia, in the beginning of the 20th Century, presented in
this film explodes in sensuality, and a little bit of humor but all of
that wasn't enough to make me give a thumbs up for it at the ending.
Many tiny little plots around the main story ruined the film; the excessive sex scenes between the main stars are quite the same thing repeated over and over; and things built up and disappear out of nowhere. Throw your rocks on me because I'm from Brazil and I've never read the book written by Jorge Amado, one of Brazilian greatest writers so I can't construct my point of view comparing both medias. But what I did saw was a film that was quite good during its forty, fifty minutes, then it was just tiresome, annoying, with nothing much to say, and nothing much to show.
What was the point anyway? A love relationship only based in sex? What was the reason of Gabriela cheating on his beloved husband? Everything is too much trite and director Bruno Barreto didn't know exactly what he was doing here, this wasn't material for him, and probably he was just trying to repeat the success of his previous adaptation of Amado's book "Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos" (1976) which had the highest box-office performance of all time around here, holding the record of most seen film for almost 20 years, losing its place to "Titanic" (1997).
The supporting cast has some good moments here (specially Ricardo Petragalia playing the teacher); Mastroianni impressed me a little but I still want to know if his voice was dubbed or he really speak Portuguese mixed with Spanish, something almost inaudible to hear. Braga displays lots of sensuality and nude scenes, things that worked a lot here in the 1980's, now it's just silly.
Overrated in all senses, this film almost made it through being a good film. The excess in story, soundtrack, direction and the lack of a higher purpose ruined the experience for me. 5/10
Here's a film to see in the 21st century that is entertaining almost
exclusively for its time-capsule quality, a tour back through time and
Brazil, a Latin pot-boiler with a cook who's always simmering. The
full-on sexy scenes with Sonia Braga add to the uninhibited foreign
The original title is "Gabriela, Clove & Cinnamon." No question she's a spicy dish, seemingly always ready & willing and never wearing (hot clingy) foundations under her dress. Hired as a house-cook, she becomes appreciated by the male locals, too, when she begins to bring a loving lunch (of food) to Nacib. Her presentation - and not the food - becomes a little too delicious for the male patrons and Nacib finds it necessary to reduce her exposure a bit.
Not quite sure about Marcello Mastroianni's appearance as Nacib except to get financing and generate some foreign box. Nevertheless, he's OK, even though his cook (Braga), then mistress, then wife to prevent the other locals from making her THEIR mistress eventually proves hard to manage ... and to keep satisfied. Finally, the duplicity common to females elevated from even the lowest social strata takes hold and generates conflict.
This film also is a look at a Latin male culture that is variously leering and lewd and legally lax in a way that makes 80's Brazil seem like much longer ago. One reviewer called this film a "male fantasy." At first maybe, surely, with Gabriela's happy, quick smoldering readiness ... but it becomes phantasm more than orgasm as Nacib finds her increasingly difficult to keep happy (like letting her go to the circus instead of a local society lecture). His desire is for her to be regarded as his wife instead of merely youth'ish house-help and wife-mistress. In the end ... well, you'll have to see.
And wasn't Mastroianni in another film called "Wifemistress?" (Yes.) It's better and more sophisticated - and maybe more sexy (in the uncut international version) with perhaps one of the loveliest and first and most natural non-porn displays of the vulva in film. It's a film that currently is difficult to find - cut or uncut.
Now that I have finished watching the soap opera Gabriela (2012) based
on the 1958 Jorge Amado's novel "Gabriela, Cravo e Canela", I felt some
curiosity to also watch this movie, filmed in 1983 and based in the
This movie was a consequence of the success of the first Gabriela adaptation to the screen. In fact, in 1975, this novel by Jorge Amado was adapted for the first time to a TV show and this soap opera was a tremendous success either in Brazil and Portugal (and many other countries as well, later).
So, a few years later, 1983, "Gabriela, Cravo e Canela" was adapted to cinema by Bruno Barreto. The actress playing the main role, GABRIELA, is the same of the first soap opera, Sonia Braga, and to play NACIB (another important character in the plot) a great figure of the seventh art was called: Marcello Mastroianni! So, as we can see, the cast to this film was not bad, at all!
However, it's a movie, with just one hour and half to tell a story like Gabriela, so, many characters present in the original novel were cut or had minimal roles. In the soap opera it was different of course, the plot was extended and all the characters were detailed built and described. I haven't totally read the original novel but by what I know of it, the 2012 soap opera even create some new characters and subplots focused on them (the character Lindinalva for instance). So, watching the movie, at parts I felt that one hour and half was just too short to describe this story as it deserves. Some scenes felt as they were hardly justified. At parts it seems that just one person that already knows the plot will understand their actions!
Nevertheless the chronology of the events is more accurate to the original novel than in the soap opera. In fact it begins were the novel begins (the murder of DONA SINHAZINHA) and follows the same line of the novel until the end. But there's an important detail: this film is focused essentially on the GABRIELA and NACIB romance and not on the subplot about politics which was also very important in the novel. In fact characters like CORONEL RAMIRO BASTOS and MUNDINHO FALCAO are relegated to a secondary plan and have little importance in the movie's plot.
I guess it might have been a choice of the director: tell this story on the sensual and romantic side and putting the subplot of politics and social criticism to a secondary plan. In fact, as I said before, one hour and half is too short to deeply describe both plots, so he decided to go deeper on the romance and sensuality OK, it was a choice and we can't complain, especially when we see Sonia Braga
Another feature that is certainly more accurate in this film than in the recent soap opera is the description of Ilhéus and all the settings. Back to 1925 a city like Ilhéus would certainly look like it's portrayed in this film, rather than it is in the 2012 soap opera (not to mention the cabaret Bataclan, which is not described in the movie but it's portrayed like the cabaret of the film MOULIN ROUGE in the soap opera!).
So, this adaption of "Gabriela, Cravo e Canela" is mostly a sensual romance, a story focused essentially on NACIB and GABRIELA. The film is entertaining and the actors do a good job, I just think it ends being too short as I said before. I felt that plenty of their actions are hardly explained and one that doesn't already know about the novel's plot won't understand many of their actions.
This was celebrated in its day. Probably most of it had to do with
Sónia Braga being here.
In fact we have a combination that make the thing worthwhile: Tom Jobim and Jorge Amado. They are part of a recent creative Brazilian tradition, which consists in throwing interesting concepts into popular forms, things that people can recognize and identify to, as "pop" but which in fact is the work of intellectual creative minds. That's why we have "música popular brasileira" (brazilian 'pop' music), which contains bossa nova, which is in fact a branch fully developed by intellectual minds, with empathy for popular expressions. Jorge Amado does a similar thing with literature. He writes material that is soap-operish (and in fact was and is fully adapted into TV minor things)but at the same time works words and builds his own language, which flows on your ears as fluid as bossa nova (even if you don't understand Portuguese, try and hear it, you'll get what i mean).
These ability to be deep and popular at the same time is the biggest quality of Jobim and Amado, to me. The problem is that these minds can very easily be misunderstood, and taken for granted in what they mean, if the minds that interpret them and thin. So i admire this film, because people in it understood this. Not that this is fully achieved, on any matter. Sometimes it sounds half-baked, and the kind of explicit sexuality with no explicit sex it tries to depict is something so much explored in the last 25 years that this sounds very dated now.
Also, i don't think Braga would explode now as she did than, sexual conceptions for the Latin woman (preconcepcions)have evolved to someone who is both sensual and intellectual (Alice Braga, Sónia's niece is probably a good example). Sónia plays a rural type, she's spontaneous, has unshaved underarms, she's illiterate, she exists in the film for the sexual frictions and tensions she causes.
Well, sex is the core of Amado's writing. He chooses a close conservative environment, a kind of social still water, and throws a stone into that water (Braga). So she, through unconscious sensuality, commands the game, and moves the plot. Since they wanted to explore Sonia's effect in those days public, this is a terribly effective device (something like what is happening in a domestic scale with Soraia Chaves, in Portugal these days).
Complaints: Barreto has a good cinematic eye, and he works visually his shots and i appreciate that, but he was not sure whether he wanted to make a film about Sonia Braga and what moves around her or a film about a sensual woman in a closed village. I think he tried to mix both, and that's the failure. I'll get to his "Dona Flor...", same context, Amado and Braga as well, and see what he did there. Also, they avoided trying to explain why Gabriela, being so much in love, would screw another man, mostly being Mastroianni's best friend. We have a small clue, but it's not conclusive. It's 'just' a plot hole and i don't value that usually, but here it felt bad, it was important the insight on Gabriela.
A side note: i have a special interest in Portuguese colonial urbanism. I'm actually working right now on a final thesis on one of those cities, one of the best (ilha de Moçambique). This little city depicted (Parati, not Ilhéus) looks a good example as well, which apparently was heavily influenced by masonry in its conception. Watch the film on that matter alone, if you're interested in the theme. Some shots are really worth it.
My opinion: 3/5
Gabriela is a great romance by Jorge Amado, a great Brazilian writer. In 1975 it was adapted to TV novel. It was very successful and we could see a young Sonia Braga at the beginning of her career. Years later we could see Sonia again but she was not young anymore. But her talent was much better. The movie only shows sexy scenes and the political history was on the second hand unfortunately. But there was a present for us. We could see in a short time a great Brazilian actress called Maria Zenaide, with her beautiful eyes making a little participation. On the other hand we could see her again and we could ask where are the great actresses of Brazil ? Unfortunately Brazil is a country with no memory and only shows what the directors think are good. Thanks God we can see Maria Zenaide making educacional commercial and she still sings Brazilian Songs though her band Grupo Avelloz, with good singers and musicians: Will Tom and Teresa Carvalho(both from Dama de Paus band), Jorge Som and Chaguinha Lima(from Siri Atômico band).
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