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Forbidden to Forbid (2006)
"Proibido Proibir" (original title)

 |  Drama  |  27 April 2007 (Brazil)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 501 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 6 critic

The story of three friends in Rio de Janeiro: Leon (Alexandre Rodrigues), a sociology student; his girlfiend Leticia (Maria Flor)... See full synopsis »

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Title: Forbidden to Forbid (2006)

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Paulo
Maria Flor ...
Leticia
...
Leon
Edyr de Castro ...
Rosalina (as Edyr Duqui)
Raquel Pedras ...
Rita
Adriano de Jesus ...
Cacazinho
Luciano Vidigal ...
Mario
Andressa Furletti ...
Alice
Wanderson 'Petão' Lopes ...
Cinézio (as Wanderson Petão)
Marcio Augusto ...
First Cop
Henrique Rodrigues ...
Second Cop
...
Blue-eyed girl (as Bruna di Túlio)
Lorena Da Silva ...
Archictecture Professor
Mariana Durán ...
Mariana
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Paulo Halm ...
Sociology Professor
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Storyline

The story of three friends in Rio de Janeiro: Leon (Alexandre Rodrigues), a sociology student; his girlfiend Leticia (Maria Flor)... See full synopsis »

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27 April 2007 (Brazil)  »

Also Known As:

Forbidden to Forbid  »

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1.66 : 1
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Trivia

The film was intended to be set in 1968, hence the title "Forbidden to Forbid", the motto of the French students riots of May 1968. Director Durán eventually decided to set the story in the present times. See more »

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Abertura em Ré
Written by José Maurício Nunes Garcia
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User Reviews

 
The best Brazilian film in quite a while: don't miss it
12 November 2007 | by (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – See all my reviews

Insightful, provocative and intensely moving, "Proibido Proibir" is about what it means to be a young college student in a big Brazilian city like Rio de Janeiro in the 2000s and have your dreams and hopes downsized by the stark reality. The three protagonists are the medical resident Paulo (sleepy-eyed Caio Blat), who numbs his sensitivity by being cynical and taking drugs and whose motto is ""Proibido Proibir" ("It's Forbidden to Forbid", the motto of the French 1968 student riots and title of Caetano Veloso's seminal song); his roommate and best friend León (Alexandre Rodrigues, who played Buscapé/Rocket in "City of God"), a black Social Sciences student who learns -- the hard way -- that being middle-class and educated won't prevent him from receiving some of the usual "treatment" reserved for poor blacks; and León's girlfriend Letícia (the lovely, fresh-faced Maria Flor), an architecture student struggling to keep her sense of ethics and aesthetics from being crushed by the ugliness (literal and metaphoric) around her. As Paulo finds himself falling for Letícia, the love/friendship triangle is formed and this film is, in many ways, a 2000s Third-World "Jules et Jim" -- and nearly as heart-wrenching, passionate and memorable.

"Proibido Proibir" is about trying to preserve a sense of purity and dignity, as well as fighting moral (and environmental) putrefaction. Having seen their hopeful dreams of youth fall short (how many youngsters still believe they can change the world? Shouldn't they?), Paulo, León and Letícia have to learn the tough limits of reality: that doctors can't always save lives; that a city like Rio, once famous for its breath-taking natural beauties and architectural landmarks, has turned into "an ocean of slums" (as Letícia puts it); that favela dwellers seem "condemned" to live in poverty, segregation, violence, lack of public assistance and disrespect for basic rights, where human lives are worth very little, and where the police -- who should protect them as regular citizens -- are often their harassers and executioners, involved in either big corruption schemes with drug traffickers and gunrunners or petty schemes (like here) with local shop owners who pay cops to kill street vendors who interfere with their business.

Director/writer Jorge Durán (screenwriter of landmark Brazilian films of the 1980s, like "Pixote", "Gaijin", "Nunca Fomos Tão Felizes") builds up the story in a slow crescendo that explodes in the last half hour. At first centering on the personal issues of his characters -- their ordinary lives, dreams, longings, pleasures, frustrations -- , he gradually makes the "real, adult world" become their waking call to social and political conscience, through leukemic Rosalinda (Edyr de Castro) and her two ill-fated sons. But how do you keep the city's putrefaction -- the chronic, criminal incompetence of successive governments, the urban and environmental chaos, the promiscuous association of power, violence and corruption -- from contaminating your soul? The film is never patronizing or condescending and, most importantly, Durán refuses phony "heroic" solutions, but never lets cynicism and hopelessness leak in. It's not about the big difference any of us can make -- it's about not letting indifference win.

One of the highlights of "Proibido" is the choice of locations: Durán avoids the usual Rio "postcard shots" or the hip "favela aesthetics", showing "mixed" landscapes, like the engineering wonder that is the Church of Penha atop a steep hill overlooking a now degraded part of town, or the breathtakingly beautiful Rio skyline as viewed from a beach on the other side of the polluted Guanabara bay (directly paraphrasing the beach scene in "Jules et Jim"). And we're caught thinking "how could such beauty get degraded? Who's to blame? Can it ever be stopped?". When Letícia's tiny figure appears against the towering Capanema building, designed by Le Corbusier and Lucio Costa (a landmark of Rio's modernist architecture), we can feel her sense of awe and discomfort -- shouldn't she instead be studying how to help solve the housing problem of millions of people who live like rats in the favelas? What are the priorities? How could the several governments in the last 40 years let Rio get this degraded? Can it ever be reverted? Is there a solution?

"Proibido" is deeply moving but never maudlin, visually striking but never exhibitionist, insightful but never preachy. It has an affectionate understanding and open-mindedness that belongs to a mature, experienced man (Durán is now 65 years old), yet the film is anything but an "old man's film". Durán lets his very young cast fill it with excitement and urgency, and they're uniformly great, with Caio Blat, Maria Flor and Alexandre Rodrigues in their best performances to date, and a scene-stealing turn by the very young Adriano de Jesus as the ill-fated Cacauzinho. And, as a bonus, "Proibido Proibir" has got that rarity in contemporary cinema: a life-affirming, cathartic, unforgettable finale -- it's a knock-out.

Do not miss "Proibido Proibir" -- there are tons of mediocre, empty, dim-witted films on "youth" out there. This one has actually something important to say, and says it splendidly.


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