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Nelson Pereira dos Santos
Modesto De Souza,
One of the most upsetting and revolting cases to ever occur in the Brazilian judicial system is transformed into a sad, brutal and true to life film that will make you angry and deeply bothered about everything you see.
"O Caso dos Irmãos Naves" ("The Brothers Naves Affair") is extremely focused in retelling the tragic story of the brothers Naves (Raul Cortez and Juca de Oliveira), simple farm workers who were arrested for a crime they didn't commit, tortured by a sadic chief of police (Anselmo Duarte) to confess for such crime - actually they were the ones who reported the crime which was the disappearance of a work partner of them who stole their money. The help on the brothers way comes with a dedicated lawyer (John Herbert) who'll try to expose the truth defying the police's authority, and even the bureaucratic and ominous judicial system.
Today this movie looks incredibly dated, harmless and with few appeal except for the impressive scenes where the main characters suffer hell on the hands of the police. However, despite being surpassed, its themes and importance are not. By the time it was made this was a blow in the face of the political authorities who reigned on a regime of terror similar to the one presented in the film, which took place in 1937 with the command of Getulio Vargas and his politic of the Estado Novo (New State). It took a lot of guts from the part of director Luis Sérgio Person in bringing such defying act to the screen and not be censored. He made it in the right time, one year later he wouldn't be allowed to make it due to the creation of the 5th Institutional Act which among other things censored any form of government critics. In here, there's a portrait of how things worked in 1937 (the real plot on the surface) and in 1967 (historical context hidden deep in the core).
Person wastes no time in developing the characters, he puts us there in the whole affair with each moment getting more and more problematic to the poor characters and their families which also suffer along, all of them going to questioning and not even a baby is spared from the chief of police's Inquisition. The glorifying and less bitter moments comes when the defense lawyer exposes his case, posing about what ethics, moral and justice really means (another blow on the Military dictatorship). Herbert gave a great show in this role, the face of anger who seeks justice in all reasonable ways. The eternal ladies man from the Atlantida studios Anselmo Duarte drastically changes of role and plays a bad guy who is pure evil, a barbaric tyrant who is deaf and blind to anything, he truly believes that the Naves brothers were responsible for the crimes.
Heavy theme got a heavy conduction so at times the movies seems just too much, very wordy and a little tiring. But for the most part Person achieved what he wanted to take from us in the audience: a strong sense of revolt in all the scenes where the brothers and witness are beaten, physically and psychologically tortured; and our curiosity in seeing if justice would be done or not. Everything goes quite authentic, the research about the facts was impeccable (the voice over giving the details of the events unfolding and at the ending the newspapers who covered the case's aftermath are shown). Powerful in all senses. 8/10
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