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Lucy de Carvalho
Augusto Matraga is a violent agressive farmer who after being betrayed by his wife and trapped by several enemies is bitten up and left for dead. He is rescued by a couple of humble small farmers who nurse him for a long time until he is well again. Influenced by the couple Augusto Matraga turns to a religiosity a long time neglected, believing he is atoning for past sins. Then he starts a long penitent life while waiting for his hour and chance. As time goes on he comes strong again but he only realize this after meeting Joaozinho Bem Bem, a famous chief of "jaguncos" who sees in him the violent man he was. Augusto Matraga starts a fight between his violent nature, his hidden desire of vengeance and the mysticism and goodness which is also part of him. This conflict lasts until the moment when his hour and his chance comes, the hour and chance to fight, to struggle an to use his strength and courage in the name of faith and humanity. Written by
Claudio Pinhanez <email@example.com>
Difficult but rewarding with a good message and a masterful performance by Leonardo Villar
"A Hora e Vez de Augusto Matraga" ("The Hour and Turn of Augusto Matraga") is one of the many short stories from "Sagarana", book written by the master Guimarães Rosa and one of the first film adaptations of his work when he was still alive - being "Grande Sertão" the other film also released in 1965. A story about violence and misery, redemption and virtue and the many dualities of life. Regarded as one of the greatest Brazilian films ever made, according to the Brazilian Critics Association (Abraccine), the films lacks in viewers and popularity due to its obscurity largely in part of the author's family and their problems with copyrights or simply not wanting to give it a re-release in other cinematic forms - still unavailable on home video; or perhaps Guimarães's family might be embarrassed by the film or simply want to disown it. I don't see reasons for it (the author himself said he liked the picture, finding the ending a lot better than the one he wrote for the novel). I believe they should release it on DVD or whatever, in a remastered version if possible because audiences are missing this. The few possible ways of seeing the film is through Canal Brasil, a cable TV channel devoted to all Brazilian films and on the internet, both version very cheap, poor sounding and awfully scratched in parts.
The film tells about Augusto Matraga (Leonardo Villar), a menacing man who had its fair share of killings and evilness, who later on is betrayed by his wife, ambushed by several bad guys and is left for dead. He doesn't die, gets rescued by poor farmers who introduce him to the works of God, and they manage to convince him that his mortal sins can be forgiven as long as he work hard in rejecting and avoiding evil thoughts of revenge, and throw himself into helping other people. Matraga finds religion and everything works...until the day a jagunço chief by the name Joãozinho Bem Bem (Joffre Soares) and his group comes along. Matraga helps everybody, providing food and shelter to them, a dangerous bunch of guys on their way to avenge the killing of a group member. That's the starting point between faith and relapse to the title character when he's invited to join them - they noticed his talents with a gun - confronted with feelings of wanting to go back to the dark side.
Almost like a western due to its settings and story devices, "The Hour and Turn..." isn't a story about the Cangaço, though it feels inclined to be. It's more of a story about a man and his inner conflicts; the outside image he projects from his cold-blooded past versus this new version of himself where he lives one day at a time, happily and rejoiced but deep down knowing that someone might come back for him if they discover he's not dead, or fighting against temptation that comes from his previous natural state of being as a bad man. Leonardo Villar's versatility makes this film a remarkable experience, specially for those who recall him best for his role in "Keeper of Promises" as a good natured simple peasant trying to accomplish a towering task. Here, Villar and his Augusto Matraga go from the dark corners of man to a more positive outcome but always flipping between each other in difficult moments. The scene where he carries the gun for the first time in ages, being observed by Joãozinho is a powerful sequence.
Though I give plenty of praise for the film due to its story aspects, I don't find it much of an engaging, gripping experience in its totality. The first act is completely confusing with several characters that don't add much, it's difficult to follow them and understand their nature or purpose in the film; the ambush sequence was strangely filmed and it's hard to tell who killed who and for what - it dragged on and on; the film gets some nice build up on the second act with Matraga's redemption, there's some quality drama in there with the old lady that helps him. The third act is definitely what conquers you in totality, the scenes you don't forget and the ones we wait the most, which is basically the film's title. Climatic, tense, permeated with a restless anxiety that never settles and it's just perfect - there's some similarity with "Keeper of Promises" finale which is slightly awkward.
In conclusion, Roberto Santos' film satisfies us with a deep message that resonates well inside every conflicted thinking creature on earth, anchored with outstanding performances (Soares as the antagonist is a wonder; and Maurício do Valle as the priest is fine). It takes some time to reach to something but when it gets it, you won't feel disappointing. Like the title says, it's all about the hour and turn each one of us to finally develop our potential, revealing that we're capable of transformation. Good film. 6/10
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