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O Caminho das Nuvens
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Middle of the World More at IMDbPro »O Caminho das Nuvens (original title)

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17 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A Great Brazilian Movie

Author: dredyoung from Austin, Texas, United States
29 August 2005

A great Brazilian movie called "The Middle of the World", which, in fact, it is in so many ways. It is a rich but unpretentious chronicle of an extraordinary journey of one rural Brazilian family. The father is illiterate and unable to find work. Romão (the father), Rose(the mother), and their five children, from a teen to a baby, begin to make a journey on bicycles and head for Rio de Janeiro, which is 2,000 miles away, to find work. They face all kinds of physical and emotional hardships along the way, seeing many kinds of villages, dirt roads and superhighways, and desolate to spell binding scenes of nature. They beg, do odd jobs, sing in outdoor cafés for money, scrounge around in old abandoned homes, swelter under the blazing sun, almost die of thirst, and sleep under the stars; yet all the while, they keep trying to survive and maintain their love for each other, which is often tested beyond limits. The husband and wife relationship has classic features that are displayed poignantly and expertly. They exhibit a kind of yin and yang pattern with Romão being a strong, soft spoken, intensely patient, idealistic optimist and Rose being the one who verbalizes their feelings of love, sympathy, joy, as well as despair, fear, and anguish. She is also outspoken when their frailties have been overtaxed and when there is a need to be practical. Her pragmatism and his religious convictions balance each other out. Nevertheless, they are able to switch roles as the one to comfort, encourage, or recommit to the challenge when either has had enough and is losing hope and faith in their vision. With no competition from age-group peers, the character of their parents seems to be emulated as role models by the children. As a sub-plot, the teenager, Antonio, is in the middle of growing into manhood. The Father, Romão, exercises patient parental control through mild rebukes and testing Antonio's mettle by letting him use his judgment and make mistakes, but he also subtly guides him with silent looks of acknowledgement that builds Antonio's confidence in himself. Rose, the mother, gives equal guidance by emphasizing caution and protectiveness but also gives him a sense of profound mother-love that becomes his foundation of security. When the father senses Antonio is ready to emancipate, the mother does not want to let go and the father, in his wisdom-love, states simply and firmly to Rose, "We do not own our children." When Antonio is left behind to follow an occupation, the strong and positive family dynamic continues to the end of their journey. Finally, when at their destination of Rio de Janeiro, and expressing the powerful spirit of this family, their triumph is symbolized in a mountain top experience as they stand together viewing Corcovado's Statue of the Christ and overlook the prize of their victory, the city of their dreams. As they crossed the 2,000 miles of their courageous journey, they witnessed the many ways in which the nation they once knew is rapidly changing. It was a raw, earthy, beautiful story. It gave such a realistic picture of Brazil as a whole. It is a beautiful country but also has such vast differences between the rich and poor. The movie also showed what a big and truly dominant role religion, and religious superstitions, plays in the lives of the poor, illiterate 'peasants'. At 'The Middle of the World', two different worlds, the new cosmopolitan and the old world, stand on the same piece of earth!

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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

The road to Rio

Author: jotix100 from New York
16 January 2006

This is a hypnotic Brazilian film. Directed by Vicente Amorim, it's set in the wide open expanses of the North of the country as a poor family is seen traveling toward Rio on bicycles. The movie gives us a sense of the enormity of some of the arid landscape the family traverses in order to get to a place where the father, Romao, could get a decent job that would pay him, at least, a sum, that in his mind will be enough to take care of his wife and five children.

The movie is made so appealing by the cinematography of Gustavo Hadba, whose camera loves to show the emptiness of the regions the family is seen traversing. The music of Andre Abujamra blends perfectly with the action.

The only thing that is incomprehensible is the way that Romao will not try to get a job, doing whatever, to support his family. Romao is a stoic father who believes his problems will be solved when they arrive in Rio, but along the way, he shows he is a beaten man who will let his family perform for whatever coins are thrown at them, and even starve, without moving a finger to remedy the situation. At the same time, Romao shows a faith in the miraculous Father Cicero, whose sanctuary they visit along the way, but alas, when opportunities arise, Romao doesn't take advantage of them.

The suffering mother Rosa is a model of loyalty to her husband. Even if she knows that it's because of Romao they are in the position one sees them. Antonio, the oldest son, is clearly an intelligent boy who will make it in life because he appears to have a resolve that will fight to survive.

The director got good performances all around from his cast. Wagner Moura, Claudia Abreu and Ravi Ramos Lacerda, the three principals, are perfect in their roles.

The film will not disappoint because it shows a good director at the helm.

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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

realistic family drama

Author: murphy-50 from Texas
30 July 2004

I've lived in Northeast Brazil, where this movie is set. Viewers get a realistic picture of small-town life, including devotion to Padre Cicero, a priest who died in 1934, in Juazeiro do Norte, Ceara. It shows the importance of the music of Roberto Carlos, the romantic singer who is Brazil's highest-selling recording artist, in the characters' lives. I've known people who have made similar journeys, and seen their devotion to their children and their struggle to preserve their dignity, just like the characters in this movie.

It's more low-key than ""Bye Bye Brasil," "Central Station," "O Auto da Compadecida," and "Eu, Tu, Eles" (Me, You, Them). It's most similar in tone to "Central Station."

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9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Dreams and Hope on the road

Author: (alto-comando) from Brasilia, Brazil
2 December 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Middle of the World is, although not perfect, one of the most touching films I have seen this year. The performances are great, Wagner Moura and Claudia Abreu are certainly the best actors of their generation in Brazil; the story is compelling. One could only probably hope for a less sad ending. Nonetheless it is a great film. The music score is probably one of the best I have heard.

The cinematography is also interesting. Although I'd prefer not to see so many wide shots of the road, but I guess the epic quality of the story would be lost without it. The alternate use of wide angle lenses and long lenses gives us a feeling of intimacy with the characters that is unique.

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A magical and heart-warming voyage through the heart of Brazil.

Author: lexicon8 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
22 September 2003

I loved this movie!

It is so refreshing to watch a non-pretentious film that illustrates the realities of poverty and the search for happiness without making you want to jump out of the nearest window!

Normally, Latin American directors tend to emphasize and exoticize poverty-stricken towns and characters by dwelling on the families' strife and hardship in order to extract superficial emotion from the spectator. Mr. Amorim, however, deftly maneuvers around these themes with a sincere and compassionate and humanistic eye.

"O Caminho das Nuvens" is a funny and modern road-movie that takes you where you want to go...places you may have been before, but may not have seen in such a fresh and authentic way. Muito bom.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:


Author: donstruan from United States, NY
18 December 2006

Wonderful movie that shows the lengths many poor people must go through to eke out a living. It shows the strong bond of family, strong bond of husband and wife.

The acting and cinematography was so well, I felt like I was along with them for the ride.

The movie opens up a world many of us never see- the everyday struggle of poverty, especially with family. What would you do to feed your family? I like the way the movie shows the conflict between pride and eating.

I applaud the excellent story telling done by the director, writer, and producer.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

This is one bicycle race nobody wants to win

Author: Chad Shiira from
28 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"O Caminho das Nuvens"(American title: "The Middle of the World") tells the true story of a man who leads his itinerant family across Brazil on bicycles. Romao(Wagner Moura) is that man, a seemingly good man who doesn't drink(by default, perhaps; he can't afford any alcohol), or beat his wife and kids. Unfortunately for his wife, Romao is not a smart man. The world that passes by their two wheels looks yellow, dead, without promise. Rose(Claudia Abreu) is a saint whose husband needs a slap in the face. His dogged persistence that he won't settle for a job that pays less than a thousand reals makes him sound like the Rainman. While he promises Rose a better life in Rio de Janerio, Rose and his family make ends meet by performing traditional songs for tourists, and whatever odd jobs or crimes that turn up during their travels. It's okay for his family to demean themselves, but when Romao has the opportunity to contribute, pride takes precedence over his obligation to provide leadership and sustenance for the people who carry his surname.

Growing pains is a trying time for an adolescent boy, even if he resides in a nice home with enough food on the table. Now consider poor Antonio(Ravi Ramos Lacerda) who goes through puberty on location. His raging hormones, raging in the brush, the tumbleweeds, the whole outback entire. When Antonio falls in love with a mermaid(a girl who poses for pictures in a club), he announces his decision to leave the two-wheel caravan. Romao doesn't discourage him because it's one less mouth to feed. After the beautiful girl in the mermaid costume rejects him for the older and wealthier club owner, we think about his mother, who married out of love instead of money. There should be a scene in which this beautiful woman second-guesses herself.

A cross-country journey is exhausting, but the family in "Caminho das Nuvens" seem remarkably fresh. They must be part-camel because the heat doesn't prevent them from sharing an occasional off-the-cuff moment while they stave off hunger and dehydration. Remarkably, prostitution, or some desperate means of earning money is never broached between father and mother. Considering the distance they cover, the parents and kids just aren't dirty enough, or angry enough, at their dire situation, or at each other.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Splendidly inspiring

Author: thnom ( from United States
15 May 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

this is another best foreign film to see. the cinematography, the acting, the characters, the thematic story lines, the issues it raised, all were splendidly portrayed. i was completely captivated throughout the film and highly recommend people to see it. it's been a while that i have seen a great movie that touches upon real issues as poverty, family, manhood, and love, all in one movie that suits all generation of audiences. there are important lessons to be learn from it, and to follow path. there is not anything to complain about this film. this is one that i like to own and past along to my children to see. thank you, the director for creating this splendidly inspiring film. Bravo to everyone involved. - Thnam Kanha Net

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Life's about the Journey, Not the Destination...

Author: meddlecore from Canada
6 June 2011

Part "Road Movie" and part "Coming-of-Age" film, "O Caminho Das Nuvens" is an enjoyable little Brazilian flick that tells us the story of Ramao, his wife Rose, and their 5 children, as they make their way from "The Middle of the World" in Paraíba to Rio de Janeiro, on bikes, in search of work and a place to settle down.

Shot in Neorealist tradition- similar to film's like De Sica's "Bicycle Thief"- we are not shown the beginning of the family's journey, nor it's conclusion...but, rather, are offered a privileged glimpse into a "slice of (this poor family's) life".

The characters are real/regular people, and as such, could represent any one of the countless number of families' that have made similar journeys from rural Brazil to major urban centers like Rio and Sao Paolo, in search of new oppourtunities and a "better life".

From the start, we are privy to the fact that the family has no set destination, little direction, and even less money to survive on. It seems that Ramao has dragged his family on this epic excursion based on a whim, and a slightly psychopathic desire to find a job that pays "1000 reisas a month"- which he feels he will need in order to take care of his large family.

We follow Ramao and his family and observe the trials and tribulations that they must endure during the six month exodus they have embarked on...

To get by the family relies on the generosity of others...begging, panhandling, busking and doing odd jobs that will earn them enough cash to keep food in their bellies. Ramao acts quite callously toward his family, for a man that relies on them for money and survival. These feelings of inadequacy are likely a consequence of his inability to provide for his family.

Tension starts to develop between Ramao, his wife, and their eldest son Antonio, as Ramao repeatedly refuses job oppourtunities that do not meet his moral or monetary expectations. This is exacerbated when he decides to extend their journey, despite pleas from his tired and hungry family.

As Ramao comes to grips with the fact that his dreams and expectations are, in all likelihood, not going to be realized, the film begins to focus on the relationship with his teenage son Antonio.

At the beginning of the film, Ramao treats Antonio like he is an unwanted burden- constantly putting him down- though it seems the family wouldn't be as safe without him. We watch as Antonio becomes more independent; getting his coming-of-age experiences at various stops made by the family along the way. By the second half of the film it becomes clear that, despite their somewhat tenuous relationship, Ramao has been trying to get Antonio ready for life on his own.

As the family nears their next (final?) destination, the film goes out on an emotional note....though we never do find out what fate has in store for them. I guess this is a comment on, "life being about the journey, not the destination".

"The Middle of the World" is a simple, heartwarming film about a family on a journey. The locations and cinematography are beautiful and the acting is pretty good. It's also worth mentioning that the actor playing Ramao (Wagner Moura) looks a helluva lot like Johnny Depp!!! Definitely worth a watch, 6.5 out of 10.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Poor family migrates from northwest Brazil to Rio

Author: Peter Kemmerle from Louisville, Kentucky
9 December 2010

This is the (based on a true) story of a peasant family from northwest Brazil that migrates to Rio. They travel not how people usually do it, but as a family, on bicycles. Five children, mom and Dad, on five bicycles. Six months it takes them, and 3000 kilometers.

It's a wonderful premise for a movie, and I was disposed to like it. I've liked other films about NE Brazil. Vidas Secas by Nelson Pereira dos Santos; Me, You, Them by Andrucha Waddington; Central Station by Walter Salles. I'd like to take another look at the Glauber Rocha films if they ever become available.

But this well intentioned film just didn't make it for me. The actors were too pretty, too handsome, their teeth too perfect and white, their bodies conditioned in a gym, their faces unburnt by a lifetime in the sun. They were too clearly actors in a created scene that was too foreign to them. They just failed to meaningfully embody their characters. It felt like they were following a recipe for acting: recite lines, add so much of this or that emotion, make meaningful glances, and voila, soufflé.

In general, the "acted" scenes filmed in a studio didn't' feel right. They felt more like a mediocre made-for-TV telenovela.

The filmmakers missed the real grit of the sturm und drang of surviving on the road by your wits and your faith. Very few close-ups. The bicycles, for example: we never saw a greasy hand or a wrench or a spoke. The rich texture of the side of the road was strangely missing, such as the people who make huge pots of tripe and rice and beans and sell it to the truck drivers, half the price of restaurant food.

But the gravest mistake was the filmmakers attempt to make the picaresque, true story of a migration/pilgrimage fit into ready-made story lines, including one especially lame subplot about the coming-of-age of the oldest boy, Antonio, his conflict with the father. The eventual resolution of the conflict between father and son was downright bathetic. Saccharin-sweet sentimentality.

The scenes of Brazil were great. The roads, the berm, the sand, the daub and wattle, the life-beside-the-flow of the river/road, the landscape, the cactus, the hot dreamy little towns and villages with their brick streets and bright colors. But still, a little too pretty. I know the scene. I lived in rural northwest Brazil for 4 years and did 80,000 kilometers of traveling in Bahia. I lived in Feira de Santana for a few months, and that city is part of the movie. I love that part of the country and its people. I liked the scenes of Juazeiro.

One scene that totally failed for me was the whole "Panama" episode. It felt like it was written into the script.

The script as a whole was predictable. The attempts at character development seemed to come from the writing. Each time our travelers learn a new lesson, the filmmakers make them stand up and announce it.

The film would have worked better in documentary style, like say Slumdog Millionaire. Imagine if the filmmakers had paused a little more to explore the details of the roadside in northeast Brazil?

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