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The widow piano teacher Lúcia and her unemployed teenage son Rafa move to a poor neighborhood in the periphery of São Paulo after the bankrupting of her pension plan. Rafa a.k.a. Pilot tells his mother that he is going to the movie theater with his friend Beto, but they go to a street racing instead in a car that Beto has stolen in the workshop where he works. While seeking the documents, they find a revolver in the glove compartment. When Rafa hits the car of a black man in a maneuver, he shoots Beto on the chest. Rafa takes the gun and accidentally kills a girl. He is sent to prison and during one visit, Lúcia meets the influent lawyer Ruiva and they befriend each other. Ruiva, who is one of the head of the criminal organization "Party", offers money to the needy Lúcia to help her in minor wrongdoings, such as bringing illegal stuff to the inmates. Meanwhile the leaders of the powerful criminal organization have inner fights; when they are sent to a maximum security prison, they ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
"Salve Geral" tells a fictional story about a real event that took place in São Paulo in 2006 when several attacks happened in police stations, banks and riots in prisons. Many policeman's and other people were killed in a striking and unexpected demonstration that the prisoners could take control of the city inside bars. Director Sergio Rezende ("Guerra De Canudos") used those events as an background to the story of a desperate mother trying to save his young son out of the imminent danger.
Lúcia (Andréa Beltrão) is a piano teacher, widower, and mother of the teenage Rafa (Lee Thalor). Rafa gets involved with bad companies and one day he kills a innocent person and is sent to prison. His mother is gonna try to do everything she can to make him get out of prison, starting a "friendship" relationship with Ruiva (Denise Weinberg), a lawyer that works for a criminal group. Lúcia is helping them too by taking messages and cellphones to inmates inside of the prisons. She even starts a love relationship with a leader of the group named Professor (Bruno Perillo). While she tries so hard to make things better for her son, the group is planning an attack that can make the city break. Worst: Rafa was approached by this group.
I reduced the plot because it's basically this. Now here comes the review, the critic exam. It's a good movie but if the writers used the real story (even with this story of the mom and her son) it could be a better movie. I remember how the events happened and many things portrayed here are exaggerated, things very over the line. The city broke down for a few days, some schools didn't work, but it didn't have curfews, no one was thrown out of the roof like it was shown in a riot scene, some firefighters were killed and this isn't mentioned in the film.
Other point to be noticed: Brazilian film critics were too harsh with this film, explaining that the whole political message delivered by the inmates sounded fake (I agree in some parts), and people didn't show up in theaters to see this. Now I think I can agree with critics and even more, here comes a question: Why a 2 star rating movie (according to critics) was selected as Brazil's official submission to the Academy Award's Foreign Language in 2010? Answer: Because of the number of sponsors that appear at the beginning of the movie. The only possible reason. Looking at the possible contestants (Almodovar film "Los Abrazos Rotos") and future nominees (Michael Haneke's film and Juan José Campanella's film) I can only say this: Brazil sent a movie to lose a nomination. It's a good film but it doesn't have the same strong references, powerful stories that those movies had. And worst: "Salve Geral" wasn't even nominated to any award here in Brazil so how did this happened? All I know is that it lacked a good promotion down here, and as an entertaining film it really works. As an historical project it goes wrong (not a disaster). Sergio Rezende directed good real stories based in true events such as "Zuzu Angel", "Guerra De Canudos" and "O Homem Da Capa Preta" (The Man in the Black Cape). By the way, the tension moments presented in his earlier films worked so much better and here it didn't work at all, many times the violent moments wasn't interesting to see, almost laughable things.
About the acting: All actors are placed well, nothing outstanding or brilliant. I liked Denise Weinberg in a few moments, she acts well as the powerful lawyer, in other moments she over acts too much. Bruno Perillo has few scenes but his look is powerful as the convict leader of the group. You trust this guy for some odd reason, almost like the same way Lúcia liked him and started to love him. The leading actress Andréa Beltrão was good in few moments, because most of the time she's crying or with a endless sad face that bothered me throughout the film. Lee Thalor is quite good considering that he never made a film before.
Explaining the title: Salve Geral is a criminal slang used to bring all prisoners and criminal people outside of prisons together in an act of violence. Something similar like the Army does to unite its troops: "Calling All Units".
Once again: as an entertaining movie it works, it's good and watchable. But as an historical account with true facts and real perspectives of people who were there in the tragedy, it sucks. 8/10
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