In 2002, 12-year-old Maria, living in dire poverty with her family, is sold by her fisherman father to prostitute recruiter Seu Tadeu, who takes her to a low-class brothel in the Amazon ... See full summary »
Filmed in Nepal and India this documentary presents the stories of young girls whose lives have been shattered by the child sex slave trade. The film provides actual footage from inside the... See full summary »
The chilling true story of a 13 year old girl who is held captive for 8 months by pimps after being sold and trafficked by her adopted parents for sex slavery.For public exhibition, (... See full summary »
In 2002, 12-year-old Maria, living in dire poverty with her family, is sold by her fisherman father to prostitute recruiter Seu Tadeu, who takes her to a low-class brothel in the Amazon region. While she suffers innumerable abuses, Maria only thinks of escaping the horrible conditions she's faced with. Written by
Urgent portrait of child prostitution marred by cliché characters, awkward acting and predictable script
Sincere, didactic, sentimental, predictable account of how 12 year-old Maria (inexperienced, doe-eyed Fernanda Carvalho) is sold by her own destitute parents in Northern Brazil to be employed as a housemaid, instead ends up being forced to work as a prostitute under slave-like conditions in an indigent brothel in the Amazon, run by evil Saraiva (Antonio Calloni). Overcoming all odds, Maria manages to escape to Rio de Janeiro, where she hopes her life will change for better when she meets Vera (Darlene Glória, the unforgettable star of "Toda Nudez Será Castigada", unrecognizable after a series of unsuccessful face-lifts)...but will it?
The theme is important and urgent: child prostitution exists in most Third World countries (well, I guess everywhere...), but in Northern Brazil it takes endemic proportions, as it's not unusual for destitute parents to sell their own daughters to brothels, in a region where virginity is still a valuable commodity, and men pay high prices to deflower virgin child prostitutes, not remotely à la "Pretty Baby" glamorization. The fact that documentaries on the subject are difficult to make due to legal issues (they're underage!) makes fictionalized films like these essential and director/writer Rudi Lagemann shows he did his research homework. Nevertheless, the film seldom clicks, due to the usual weak points in contemporary Brazilian fiction film-making: the loose/inefficient direction of actors, the predictability of plot development, the abuse of formulaic characters and unconvincing/flat dialog.
If the film is ultimately frustrating, it's mainly due to cliché cardboard good vs. evil characters and the fact that we can outguess nearly every next sequence. The dialog seldom rings true, marred by the awkward acting of the young cast (with the exception of talented and more experienced Mary Sheyla), the mix of unlikely accents and the shameless scenery-chewing of the veterans (especially Calloni and Darlene Glória, while usually reliable Chico Díaz and Vera Holtz resort to ticks and tricks; Otávio Augusto is fine, as usual). The mix of professional and non-professional actors never lets the film impose its tone (it keeps teetering between melodrama and docu-realism). Visually, the film is also contradictory, as Lagermann indulges in carefully planned framings and complex camera movements that belie (and soften) the urgent, raw, ugly theme.
I sincerely wish I could recommend this film heartily; it IS a labor of love, well-intentioned and deals with an important issue. But if you want to see a really great Brazilian film about child exploitation and prostitution (among other throbbing themes), try to find the brand new DVD release of "Iracema -- Uma Transa Amazônica". That one is a real punch in the stomach and a completely successful mix of cinéma- vérité, improvisation and fiction, still as urgent and shocking as it was 30 years ago, and which -- tragically -- hasn't dated at all.
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