A brilliant plastic surgeon, haunted by past tragedies, creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. His guinea pig: a mysterious and volatile woman who holds the key to his obsession.
Dora, a dour old woman, works at a Rio de Janeiro central station, writing letters for customers and mailing them. She hates customers and calls them 'trash'. Josue is a 9-year-old boy who never met his father. His mother is sending letters to his father through Dora. When she dies in a car accident, Dora takes Josue and takes a trip with him to find his father. Written by
Vinicius de Oliveira, a shoeshine boy, beat out more than 1,500 other young actors for the role of Josué. See more »
[dictating a letter]
My darling, My heart belongs to you. No matter what you've done, I still love you. I love you. While you're locked in there all those years, I'll be locked up out here, waiting for you.
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Central do Brasil has everything. You come expecting a story of a woman who takes care of a child in a harsh social milieu. You sit in disbelief as this woman shows herself to be a heartless opportunist, and as your expectations are being confounded, you begin to realize how this villainess came to be such a person. The boy she begins to help is also no innocent movie cherub, he has an endearing slyness and a will to survive despite the horrible tragedy he has experienced.
Their road trip is an odyssey from bad to worse, and you begin to sympathize. The characters they meet and the landscape they traverse give us in the north a flavor of Brazil which I cannot confirm as being authentic. But they seem as complex and beautiful and full of contradiction as the Brazilian music that I love. And the final destination for the boy (you're on the edge of your seat hoping things will turn out right) is not a happily-ever-after, but seems to indicate a new direction for the character.
If I sound overly sentimental (I'm sure I do) it's because very few films have moved me like this one. I watched it through three times and cried at the scene of Dora on the bus every time. The use of religious imagery, from the modern evangelicalism of the truck driver to the more unfamiliar scenes with the pictures of the saints (incredible camerawork here) added dimensions of complexity in a medium where Christianity is often treated either in a saccharine fashion or with heavyhanded disdain. See Central Station.
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