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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>
Great production values put to evil use in this horribly acted love story set in a Rio favela
Rio de Janeiro in widescreen CinemaScope is quite a sight, that´s for sure, and the carnival parade with the famous escolas de samba (samba schools) do sound great in digital sound. But money (it cost some U$ 7 million, a record for Brazilian standards) and the technology it can buy does not make a good film, especially if it´s a tragic love story, like this one.
Two awful leads (Tony Garrido and Patrícia França) play Orfeu and Euridice, who are supposed to be in love, but we just have to take their word for it. Their love, and the movie, takes place in a Rio favela (shanty town), located high up in the hills of the city. It´s a fascinating set (built entirely for the shooting) which stands-in for a fascinating Brazilian inner-world, packed, in real life, with its own special rules and laws which the movie prefers to ignore.
As it is, Orfeu shows us a great set, rather than the interesting parallel society it seems to be examining. Walter Salles´ Central Station did a pretty good job at rendering its station with documentary-like accuracy. Orfeu renders its favela with soap opera-like consistency.
It´s a pity, because some of the supporting characters almost come to life. Orfeu´s parents, Zezé Motta and Milton Gonçalves, display the respect and dignity their small favela roles demand. Isabel Fillardis also makes an impression, as one of Orfeu´s women who may have had a big break after making the Playboy centerfold. But these are characters who have little screen time, although Brazilian music superstar, Caetano Veloso, does get an overlong and rather embarassing cameo appearance. You can´t miss him. He´s the animatronic-like puppet, playing a guitar on somebody´s roof.
Diegues, who made the excellent Bye Bye Brazil, in 1980, seems to be so infatuated with his toys (the movie is technically very good) that he loses it altogether, especially in a story set in the dog days of Brazilian carnival, but totally devoid of the unique atmosphere of the Brazilian carnival. A turkey.
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