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In a dangerous but human Rio de Janiro's slum, rises the love affair between Orfeu, a famous composer, and Eurídice, a simple but pretty brunette, provoking jealousy and violence in times of carnival. A kind of Brazilian Romeo and Juliet, full of samba. Written by
Fabio Ornelas <email@example.com>
Director Carlos Diegues knows how to capture atmosphere with his camera and effects and when that atmosphere is the splendid garish gaudiness of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro there is plenty to entertain the eye. 'Orfeu' as a story, supposedly a re-interpretation of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth updated to current times and set in the slums (favelas) of Rio, is just not there.
The title character Orfeu (handsome and talented singer Toni Garrido) does sing and play his guitar, his playing ends the night and serenades the rising of the sun, but here he a quasi-Rap star, beloved by his townsfolk of the hillside favela, and by all the women who come into his view. Eurídice (Patrícia França) enters his life, as she comes to Rio after the death of her parents in the provinces, and the meeting results in instant love. There is violence from the police invasions of the slums, drug lords such as Lucinho (a disastrously misused Murilo Benício who happens to be one of Brazil's biggest stars), female envy from Orfeu's many ex-lovers (Isabel Fillardis, Maria Ceiça), and parental concern from Orfeu's parents Conceição (Zezé Motta) and Inácio (Milton Gonçalves). But the story, or at least a semblance of one, gets buried in all the extravagant production of police raids and the Carnival parades: it just ends without much point - except that there is a reprise of the musical theme from 'Black Orpheus' to carry you back down memory lane.
Though the quality of acting is generally substandard by comparison to most great films out of Brazil, the style of acting is supposedly the accepted norm for the popular Brazilian novellas on television. And the sensual presence of Toni Garrido does raise the quality of the movie. But if the art of 'Black Orpheus' or Jean Cocteau's 'Orphee' is what you are expecting, this film will not satisfy. If you are looking for a colorful, splashy extravaganza about Rio during Carnival, here is your ticket! Grady Harp
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