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Cássia Kis Magro
During the Carnival in the historical site of Pelourinho (Salvador, Bahia, Brazil), we follow the lives of the tenants of a falling-to-pieces tenement house who try to get by using creativity, irony, humor and music.
In Rio, Máiquel is without prospects. He's philosophical and low-key. When he loses a bet and must dye his hair blond, life changes: he finds new confidence, he asks Cledir, the hairdresser, on a date, and when he's teased by a local tough kid, he murders him. Instead of an arrest, Máiquel's a local hero; the cops look the other way. He and Cledir become lovers, his victim's girlfriend Érica, who's 15, insists that he protect her and moves into his small flat, and job offers come his way from a group of rich men who want to settle scores and get rid of local riff-raff. Where can this business go, and what about the triangle of Cledir, Érica and Máiquel? He just wants to be normal? Written by
I stumbled unto this film by mere coincidence. I had no idea what to expect, not being acquainted with the director, or any of its excellent stars, although I've seen quite a few Brazilian films. Director Jose Enrique Fonseca works miracles with this movie and in the process gets amazing performances from all of his cast.
This is a film where there is a lot of violence, but it also works as a moral tale. When all seems to be lost in the Brazilian society, we get a sort of paid avenger that will get rid of the bad element terrorizing the 'hood. This is the underlying theme of the film.
Maiquel, as played by Murilo Benicio, is a cool cat with no apparent scruples. Deep down, he strongly believes he is doing the right thing in helping people get revenge with what the inept police doesn't even bother to do. Mr. Benicio gives a controlled performance with funny moments. His relationship with the pet pig he receives from a satisfied customer, gives comic relief from his otherwise well known underground activities.
Claudia Abreu, a beautiful actress plays Cledir who eventually will marry Maiquel, the man she helped to give a "new blond look". Also in the cast, Natalia Lage, another gorgeous young woman who reappears in Maiquel's life only to transform herself when she discovers religion and wants him to join in the evangelical movement, something he never does.
Some people have compared this film to "City of God", and frankly, there is no basis for the comparison. While the latter film showed the life in the poor favelas, the characters of this film are lower middle class people with a different set of values in life. They're not completely destitute, or as hopeless, as the poor young people of the other film.
Mr. Fonseca, the director, shows great promise. We look forward to his next film.
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