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Like "O Signo da Cidade" (The Sign Of The City, 2007), "Onde Está A Felicidade?" (Where Is The Happiness?) was a great surprise. While their last movie is a drama about the differences between choices and destiny and a sad point of view of São Paulos city, this one is a comedy arguing around happiness, where are we supposed to find it and a hilarious point of view of some people in the world. Both movies were directed and produced by Carlos Alberto Ricceli and performed, written and also produced by Bruna Lombardi (Riccelli's wife).
Riccelli and Lombardi are getting better each new work (this is their 3rd movie). Their last attempt was interesting and with a great plot development, but some elements broke the experience maybe for the excess of some of its main Brazilian distributor requirements and the lack of some better acting direction. But seems that Riccelli just learned from the experience and now did it right because even Globo Films being the distributor again, Riccelli and Lombardi now seems more confident in managing some of the issues and flaws that made "O Signo da Cidade" disappointing in some scenes.
Bruna and Riccelli uses influences of Almodovar and absurd comedy within their own signatures in a movie with no time setting to tell the story of Teodora (Bruna Lombardi), a chef that owns a TV program about erotic food who goes to a pilgrim trip to Santiago de Compostela, in Spain, after discovering that her husband was having a virtual affair, and also after receiving the news that her TV program would be canceled because the network was bought by some evangelic church. Even appearing to be another simple comedy movie, it has very funny moments and a top notch production. The great balance between a colorful costume design, intelligent and uplifting dialogs together with a so magical pilgrim trip as Santiago make the movie a fresh and delightful thing to watch.
Performed by actors from several countries, all of them have their own importance and the guest appearances are placed correctly and in the right moments. Also they are very well directed and some actors or characters that could be annoying never is exactly for the fact that, differently from his last movie, now seems that Riccelli gave more attention for the actors than just trying to make perfect technical scenes. The dialogs are very interesting and few are the moments that you are bored by them. I'm not a fan of Bruno Garcia (as Nando), famous in Brazilian soap operas, but he did a great job in the movie and his scenes never exceeds the necessary. Bruna Lombardi never was a great actress, but as in "O Signo da Cidade", she once again gives one of her best performances to date, far better from the ones provided in the past in Brazilian soap operas.
Of course that the movie wouldn't be what it is if wasn't for its screenplay. Bruna Lombardi stated several times that she went to Los Angeles to specifically study and improve her screen writing process. And she learned the lesson well. Her writing is so rich and full of details that while I was watching the movie I could almost read it.
Sometimes a little too long in its almost 120 minutes, maybe and only the main problem of entire movie, but Bruna and Riccelli are getting their tone right and becoming a great influence in Brazilian cinema, and I'm sure that their love and dedication as movie makers will present us in the future with amazing surprises.
P.S: attention for the songs, most of them were also written by Riccelli.
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