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Boring, Confused and Not Funny

4/10
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
28 April 2005

In the 60's, the admiral Sampaio Barroso (Anselmo Duarte) returns to his farm for the wedding of his daughter Bebel (Maitê Proença). She will get married with her cousin Toni (Paulo Cesar Grande), in a marriage arranged to save the wealthy of the family. On the wedding, they meet with their cousin Ticão (Edson Celulari), who lives in the farm and loves Bebel. Ticão tries to sabotage the ceremony to avoid the wedding of Bebel and Toni. "Brasa Adormecida" is a boring, confused and not funny comedy. The story is very silly and the screenplay does not develop well the characters. I did not understand the conclusion, with Tião dressed like a priest. Was the whole story a dream of Bebel ("Burning Coal Asleep")? The song of Antonio Carlos Jobim is the best part of this movie. I read in an article that the title "Brasa Adormecida" is a homage to 1928 "Braza Dormida" of the great Brazilian director Humberto Mauro, of "Ganga Bruta". However, he deserved more than that. My vote is four.

Title (Brazil): "Brasa Adormecida" ("Burning Coal Asleep")

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Uninspired allegory

1/10
Author: jerrysonny from United States
3 May 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just caught a rerun of this 80s Brazilian movie on TV and was astonished to see Brazilian soap stars in the peak of their physical beauties. Even more disturbing was to realize that this has been considered one of the best Brazilian movies of its time and that blue-eyed Maitê Proença, the movie's leading lady, got a best actress award at a film festival. Both she and the movie are plain terrible.

While the script makes little to no sense, with mythological figures of Brazilian lore being thrown in a preppy-like, highly-idealized rural setting of the Brazilian elites, it's the combination of bad acting, poor cinematography and precarious sound and editing that makes watching this movie a nightmare.

Within a rich family that took in-breeding a bit too far, cousins Tony (played by former athlete and model Paulo Cesar Grande) and Bebel (Ms. Proença) are set to get married in an arrangement to save the family's fortune, the details of which are never really clarified. Another cousin (?!?!), Ticao, played by famous leading man Edson Celulari, is in love with Bebel and has a plan to wreck the family event. Attempts at slapstick comedy, embarrassing musical numbers, grotesque special effects, lots of fillings with the scenery and quite possibly the least amount of dialog ever in a Brazilian movie ensue. Nothing is funny or engages the viewer, but for the silly exploitation of the love triangle's physical beauty, which borders on creepy since they are cousins in the plot and the actors are remarkably alike in their Bruce Weberish, untouchable Aryan appearance.

No one explains why Ticao, who was raised with his cousins in the family farm, got to become a semi-retarded hillbilly while the other two are cosmopolitan urbanites. Well, since the whole movie is Bebel's dream, nothing has necessarily to make sense. The only remarkable aspect of the movie is its not-so-subtle gay sub-text. Tony and Ticao are totally into one another and their courting of Bebel is more a dispute between them for a trophy wife. In one of the movie's few remarkable scenes, Mr. Grande, a blond, blue-eyed matinée hunk at 6'2, is alone in his room, admiring himself bare chested at a mirror when he realizes cousin Ticao peeking through a window. After a couple of dirty looks and inaudible dialog, the latter grabs what seems like a piece of black underwear from his cousin's luggage and runs off. It sounds like soft-core porn, but it was actually the only technically half-decent scene in the whole movie.

The baffling piece of garment appears later in the movie's most embarrassing scene, when Ticao graduates from moron and everyone's butt monkey to a Greek God. At the pool, in front of Bebel and the family youngsters, Ticao shows up wearing a two-piece (!?!?), black Speedo-like swim suit, whose front and back (the actual two pieces) are tied by strings, like a Victoria's Secret crazy outfit for daring husbands. Mr. Celulari, at least a 6-footer with a dark mane, heaven-like blue eyes and impossibly chiseled cheekbones and pecs, carries a hawk and parades around pretty much like a boy toy. It's so equally gay and self-repressed it could be the family version of "Beefcake." The fact that all of this happens in Bebel's dream suggests she's either in on her cousins' secret affair or wishes really bad they were having one. However, Ms. Proença is such a lousy actress you can't actually tell. Once the dream is over and the wedding ceremony follows, the movie plays the viewer by revealing that cousin Ticao is actually a priest, the one in charge of celebrating the cousinly bond. While at it, at the altar, the three cousins exchange looks, winks and smiles that suggest they will go on living an eternal pastoral threesome. Since the actors attended the Joey Tribianni Acting School, rather than puzzling the viewer, they actually make you feel glad that you don't know any of them. In this gross orgy ideologically engineered by Goebbels, you can't help but feel embarrassed for whoever cooked that bomb of a story.

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