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Darlene, earthy and unmarried, returns to the cane fields of Bahia with her young son. There, over time, she balances the pride, desire, jealousy, and tolerance of three men. Osias, an older man, proud of a house he's built, proposes marriage; she accepts. He retires to his hammock, she works hard, and in a few years births a second son, much darker than Osias. Then, he takes in his cousin Zezinho, almost as old as he, a good cook, so Osias is happy. Darlene smiles at Zezinho. Another son arrives, light-skinned like Zezinho. Next, Darlene meets Ciro, young and handsome, and invites him to dinner. Osias insists Ciro stay. When another son arrives, what will the proud Osias do? Written by
This is a beautifully directed and photographed tale of a Brazilian countrywoman who, in a reversal of the traditional sexual roles, maintains relationships, and has babies, with several men. In Hollywood this plotline might have resulted in a sleazy drama or zany farce, but director Andrucha Waddington has wisely chosen to follow a realist path, and create a warm, human comedy, about believable characters, set in simple interiors and the arid landscape of interior Bahia.
Another difference from a hypothetical Hollywood version is that the characters largely lack conventional glamour. Regina Casé, who plays the heroine, Darlene, is distinctly homely; her legal husband who ignores her while she gets on with managing his smallholding and cutting sugar cane, and his more affectionate cousin whom she takes as a lover, are both older men. Only Ciro (Luis Carlos Vasconcelos), the young man she later turns to, has obvious physical attraction.
On occasion the realism turns a little magical, under the influence of the surrealistic wide, open vistas and long, empty roads, but Waddington plays down any metaphysical elements. Nor is the movie a social tract, though Regina - knowingly or unknowingly - is asserting her right to live her own life and seek happiness where she can, just like consciously feminist women in the wider world. In the tradition of humanist films, there is an open ending, which may or may not be happy - again, unlike Hollywood.
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