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In the Northeastern of Brazil, the wolf traveling salesman of fabric José Araújo arrives at Jardim dos Caiacós and succeeds in selling his merchandise to the Turkish Turco. He goes to a ball to celebrate the business and he meets Dualiba, the forty and something year-old virgin daughter of Turco. He shags Dualiba and she tells her father what happened, and José Araújo is forced to marry her. When the resigned Araújo discovers that he is the motive of joke in the town, he changes his name to Ojuara and becomes a fearless lonely rider though the countryside of Northeastern to the paradisiacal São Sarué. Along his journey, his name becomes a legend that has defeated the devil and many bullies. He meets the gorgeous Jacirene a.k.a. Genifer in a brothel; the circus acrobat in the trapeze Sue; the evil Mãe de Pantanha and her "vagina dentata" ("toothed vagina"); and the daughter of a powerful farmer Eleonora. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Regarding the rating, I just want to say I may have to review it later when I see this movie again. It's not that I'm not sure if it deserves a 9/10. But I consider this an extremely high rating, and since I'm still on the "heat" of having just finished watching it for the first time, I feel like I could do a better judgment the next time I see it.
As for now, I think it's a very fair rating. First, because it suits my needs of what I understand to be good cinema - photography that plays a role in the script, decent sound mixing and innovative editing. I dare to say the director is worth a mention on the "new school" of Brazilian directors, alongside Fernando Meirelles and Walter Salles, which have been causing furor worldwide - well, if not worldwide, at least to me.
The storyline took a while to get me interested, but only long enough until I realised it was not your regular Northeastern Brazil drama-comedy. I may be wrong and I probably should do some research before I say anything, but I believe Ojuara's epic journey was supposed to be a free adaptation of Homer's Odissey. If that was not on purpose, or never such a thought has crossed the writers' minds, I stand corrected. Nevertheless, the excitement of the hero's journey to a greater goal is good be found on both.
The colour and the pace of the movie sometimes reminded me of old American (US) western movies, and also newer ones with shooting locations along the Mexican border. It makes me think that desert movies will never get old, given the mysterious connection every human being has with the arid landscape. When I was watching the movie, it also made me realise how rich is Brazil when it comes to scenarios for movie pictures.
No other thing in the movie has caught more my attention though, than the brilliant work by Marcos Palmeira as the leading character. When you think an actor has played every different character he could without risking to a horrible failure, the guy shows up and plays a different one even better than you could ever expect. Some people outside Brazil may not be aware of the diversity of the accents in which Portuguese is spoken within the country's borders. Well, I tell you, the speech of Northeastern states (where the story is located) and that of Rio de Janeiro, metropolitan and countryside São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul and other Southern states... they are by no means the same. I can even say that, at times, they're not even mutually intelligible.
People that have HBO may have heard about Mandrake, the original series created by HBO Brasil and shown in a few other countries. Palmeira is also the leading character in the series named after the carioca (from Rio, the city) private investigator. If you have watched the series, you would know how a true carioca sounds like. And Palmeira is perfect not only because he speaks exactly like cariocas do, but because he acts, speaks, moves and basically IS a carioca.
In "O Homem...", he plays a Northeastern guy with probably the same level of verisimilitude. You totally buy he's a native potiguar (from Rio Grande do Norte state). On the few scenes he shared with musician-turned-actor Otto, one can barely distinguish the real Northeastern guy from the fake one. This same verisimilitude was a lot harder to find on other non-Northeastern members of the cast though, like carioca Leandro Firmino Da Hora (City of God) or paulista co-star Fernanda Paes Leme (which also starred in a Mandrake episode).
Anyways, in a time when Meirelles' Blindness seems to be getting misunderstood by the world connoisseurs, it's good to remember there's awesome Brazilian cinema being made for a while now, and unfortunately it seems it will take some time until the world can enjoy it.
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