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Almost Brothers More at IMDbPro »Quase Dois Irmãos (original title)

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

A country torn apart

Author: FERNANDO AMERICO from São Paulo, Brasil
2 April 2005

QUASE DOIS IRMÃOS (the title translates as something like ALMOST LIKE TWO BROTHERS) is a brutal examination of Brazilian society, divided between black and white people, between politicians and drug barons, men and women, mothers and sons, us and them. There are times when these worlds live together, but they are bound to collide, crash and burn. The movie follows the friendship between a black man from the slums (Jorge) and a communist (Miguel). In their childhood, they play games and listen to the samba; in their youth, they are arrested (Miguel for political reasons, Jorge for being a thief); later, Jorge has become a drug baron and Miguel is a politician who forgot his dreams of changing the world. The centerpiece of the movie is the time they spent together in jail. Miguel learns that the "people" for whom he fights is not the way he idealizes them, and Jorge learns how to take the "political view" into the crime life, thus generating the organized crime. The director Lucia Murat, no strange to political persecutions herself(she was arrested and tortured by the dictatorship in Brazil)conducts this epic story with intimate care and great storytelling. The cast is top-notch, with great Brazilian actors giving the performances of their lives (Caco Ciocler and Flavio Bauraqui are standouts). A masterpiece from Brazil who deserves to be discovered.

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11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

A More Realistic "City of God" with More Social Context

Author: (mrl218) from San Francisco, California
30 April 2005

I saw this last night and thought it was brilliant and beautiful. It's like a deeper, more realistic version of "The City of God" with more social context. The audience applauded at the end of last night's showing, which hasn't happened too often at other festival showings I've been to.

Lucia Murat, the director, was there last night. She told us that both she and her husband were left-wing activists and political prisoners in the 1970s under the military rule. The prison part of the story is based partly on her and her husband's experience. She worked with the author of the book version of "City of God" to get nuances of the slum life right (Paulo Lins, author of "Cidade de Deus"). Many of the child actors in the movie actually live in the slums.

The use of non-linear narration, the interlacing of several stories from different time periods (like in "21 Grams"), is confusing at first. It's a little hard to keep track of who's who. But if you pay attention and bear with it for the first half hour, the confusion does clear up. I think this mixing of stories is done for more than just theatrics. It reminds us that these people from different worlds, rich and poor, black and white, are really related and interdependent.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Powerful and Realistic View of the Two Worlds that Exist in the Brazilian Society

Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
7 February 2006

In the 70's, the military dictatorship sent many political prisoners to the Presidio da Ilha Grande ("Great Island Prison) together with common prisoners, using the National Security Law, with the intent of reducing their moral and integrity. With the exchange of information between these two different worlds, the criminals learned how to organize and this was the origin of the presently huge criminal gangs in Rio de Janeiro (such as the "Commando Vermelho" (the IMDb dictionary changes the correct spelling with only one "m"), "Terceiro Commando" etc.).

Director and screenplay writer Lúcia Murat, who was a member of the Brazilian guerrilla arrested and tortured in prison by the military dictatorship, discloses this powerful and realistic view of the two worlds that does exist in the Brazilian society: the violent underworld of the slums and the repressed world of the streets. Using the friendship of a white and a black man along decades, in a non-linear and very original screenplay, Lúcia Murat follows the parallel lives of Miguel and Jorginho in the 50's, when they were children; later in the 70's, when the political prisoner Miguel meets Jorginho in the prison; and in the present days, when Miguel is a deputy of the legislative body, and the still imprisoned Jorginho is the leader of a criminal gang. In her raw and real analytical view of our society, the police supply the weapons to the criminals; a deputy has to ask for permission to the lord of the slum to implement a social program to the community. The tagline of this movie is amazing: "We all have two lives: the one we dream of and the one we live". The beautiful title song "Quase Irmãos" ("Almost Brothers") of Naná Vasconcelos and sang by Luiz Melodia and Naná Vasconcelos magnificently completes this excellent movie. Last but not the least, in accordance with the cover of the DVD, this movie was awarded in the following festivals: (1) Rio Festival: Best Director, Best Actor, Best Latin-American Film, Fipresci Prize; (2) Mar del Plata Festival: Best Iberia-American Film, Best Film (Public); (3) Havana Festival: Best Montage and Best Music Score; (4) Official Section of Toronto and Montreal; (5) Paris Festival: Best Film (Public); (6) Amazonas Film Festival: Best Film. I do not understand why this great film has not been indicated by Brazil to the Oscar. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "Quase Dois Irmãos" ("Almost Two Brothers")

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Great Film

Author: manoel-giffoni from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
3 April 2005

...and I found it great because it examines the process that lead to the huge social crisis we are currently living in Brazil without resorting to maniqueism. It actually blames everyone that is to be blamed. Mrs Murat knows what she is talking about when presents us the reality of the political prisoners in Brazil's 60s and 70s, she's actually been there. However, she never falls into the endless mourning of the poor intellectuals that were forced to live among ordinary prisoners. She actually presents a question and leave it for the watchers to make their own conclusions. The only weak leak is left to the nowadays romance between Maria Flor's character and her slum chief boyfriend. The acting is weak and her character is shallow - nobody knows what are her feelings, why is she there, how much she loves him (and maybe that's because there was too many things to be told at the same time).

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

This movie is soo good!

Author: Lady Targaryen from Brazil
10 February 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I watched this movie by my father's recommendation, but I am not disappointed at all. First of all,this film show us in a great way, how the ''Comando Vermelho'', a big criminal gang from Rio de Janeiro, was formed and how the guys learned how to organize their criminals and teams. I think this movie will mark mainly brazillians, special the ones from Rio de Janeiro like myself, but this is not a reason why foreigners should not watch,specially if they liked ''Cidade de Deus''. Caco Ciocler already is considered a great actor,as well as Marieta Severo and Antônio Pompêo,but this movie have show me a new excellent actor: Flavio Bauraqui(who plays Jorginho in the 70's)

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Best representation of modern Brazil to date

Author: gcernat from United States
1 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is of course in my humble opinion. After seeing City of God, I thought I understood Brazil pretty well. Not so, it seems. Whereas City of God focuses on the life in the favelas and the rise of violence in the streets, explaining in a humoristic manner why criminals are getting younger, Almost Brothers does an excellent job at describing how the criminals organize themselves so well, even with the masterminds in the jail. It all started during Brazil's dictatorship, when left-leaning intellectuals have been thrown in jails together with common criminals. The film has its symbolism, indicating how the Brazilians - no matter how idealistic and tolerant in theory - have reached the conclusion that rich and poor shall be separated. The extra features on the City of God DVD actually explain how the upper-middle class of Brazil prefer to build houses for the poor in suburbs far away from their neighborhoods, hoping they will not visit. "The only government agencies entering the favelas are the police" says one of the interviewees, raising the question if there is actually something that can be done about Brazil. City of God ends in a rather optimistic tone, while Almost Brothers reminds me of the tragedy in Steven Soderbergh's Traffic. The movie alludes to the never-ending cycle of violence and it offers absolutely no resolution, other than a weak comment from the grandmother watching her granddaughter recovering on the hospital bed: "Everything is going to be OK." Is it though? The movie seems to only show a divided society. The solution? To be determined.

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