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Salvador del Solar,
In Melo, a poor Uruguayan country village near the Brazilian border, several men earn their living from contraband, mostly transported on bicycles. One of them, Beto, is getting too old for heavy freights but hopes to earn a motorbike. The idea is to build and charge money for the use of a proper lavatory at the occasion of the first-ever papal visit to Uruguay, as His Holiness is expected to pass trough Melo where he may be cheered by hordes of Catholic Brazilians.Written by
"The working people of Melo welcome Pope John Paul II"
I recently was browsing the foreign movie section of my local library and stumbled upon this particular DVD. I didn't pay much attention to it, other than it was released by Film Movement, which has an amazing library of indie and foreign films, and so I went ahead and picked it up.
"The Pope's Toilet" (2007 release from Uruguay; 97 min.) brings the story of Beto and his family and friend in the Melo community in Uruguay, not far from the border from Brazil. As the movie opens, we see Beto and several others biking back into Uruguay, heavily loaded with packages of all kinds. It's not long before we understand that Beto and his friends make a living smuggling everyday goods from southern Brazil into Melo. Meanwhile, Melo is getting excited about the upcoming visit of Pope John Paul II, and Beto and many others are thinking of a way to take advantage of this unexpected economic opportunity. To tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: first, it wasn't until I was about to start watching this that I noticed this movie originally came out in 2007, so almost 10 years ago. It is amazing then to notice that the movie has a certain timelessness about it, as I found this movie utterly fresh and mesmerizing. I was at first a little put off by the movie's opening disclaimer that the events portrayed in the movie are "in essence true and it's only by chance they didn't occur the way they're told here", whatever that is supposed to mean. But the Pope did in fact visit Melo (in May, 1988). Second, the movie's director pays close attention to the economic struggles of the Melo community, synthesized here by Beto and his wife and daughter. His wife has accepted her fate, while his daughter has big dreams of becoming a radio announcer and going to study in Uruguay's far-away capital Montevideo. In that sense, this is a rather depressing movie, as life is hard for this remote community. It's all the more exciting then when the preparations for the Pope's visit begin (signs emphasize the blue collar aspects of Melo), and people in Melo are wondering/contemplating how many Brazilians will cross the border for this historic moment (and spend money in the Melo community): 2,000? 20,000? 200,000?
Per the usual, the Film Movement DVD comes with a bonus shortie, this time the excellent "Video 3000" (5 min.) from Germany, an animated shortie about a person who has just received his new DVD player, and is trying to figure out the remote control. Just watch! Meanwhile, "The Pope's Toilet" is an excellent example of Film Movement's rich library of foreign and indie movies. "The Pope's Toilet" is HIGHLY RECOMMEDED!
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