A story inspired by the life of one of the most remarkable figures in Brazilian popular culture, João Francisco dos Santos (1900-1976). In turn, bandit, transvestite, street fighter, brothel cook, convict and father to seven adopted children, dos Santos--better known as Madame Satã--was also a notorious gay performer who pushed social boundaries in a volatile time. The story begins in 1932, in Rio de Janeiro's bohemian Lapa district, when João Francisco is about to achieve his dream: becoming a stage star. In the sordid yet lively world of Lapa--populated by pimps, prostitutes and other denizens of Rio's underworld--João battles the streets and presides over a surrogate family that includes the charming prostitute Laurita, and her baby daughter whom everyone dotes on; the flamboyant hustler Taboo; João's teenage lover, Renatinho; and Amador, the owner of the Blue Danube club which is their second home. It is at the Blue Danube that street tough João begins to sing, and the mythic drag... Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Built on subtly-nuanced performances by an outstanding cast, this film is a real cinematic gem. From the period costumes to the cinematography to the music, everything fits together. Lazaro Ramos as Joao Francisco dos Santos gives a tour de force performance especially powerful given the range of emotions necessary for the role. But all of the actors shine, under the demanding, gifted direction of Mr. Anouz. In some very long takes, for instance when Laurita tells dos Santos of the death of Rehatindho, all aspects of the craft are called into play. It cannot have been easy to maintain for such a long take.
The story is inspirational in the sense that the human spirit triumphs, love fulfills, talent overcomes in even the most sordid circumstances. Whether in Berlin or Brazil, life is, most certainly, a cabaret.
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