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Resenha do filme A Dona da História

Thoughtful, crafty and well acted Brazilian movie.

Published in: Internet Movie Database ( 6 November 2004

This movie picture (Her History's Mistress, in loose translation) is one of those that make you think long and hard about life, love, the individual destiny of common people and the role that small chance decisions play in changing all this in dramatic ways.

The main actresses of the film (Marieta Severo and Debora Fallabela) plays Carolina, now a 50-old women who is living alone with her husband of 30 years, Luiz Cláudio (played by Rodrigo Santoro and Antonio Fagundes), an architect. Their four kids are gone from the nest and they are selling their big beachfront apartment, where they have lived happily most of their adult life, and moving to a smaller flat.

Carolina starts to relive her past years as a young ballet student, who wanted to become a big actress. She feels frustrated that she had to abandon her ambitions in exchange for a married and emotionally stable life with her first boyfriend and the great love of her life. She then replays in her imagination how her life could be different if she could decide in different ways. She imagines two alternative life tracks: one, becoming the great actress she wanted to be, and the other, becoming a solitary spinster with a bleak job. In both her imagined lives she didn't marry her present husband. She wants to ask for divorce, so that she could be a mistress of her own destiny again.

The plot may look as being too cliché, but actually, thanks to a masterful cinematic adaptation of the original book, a good use of flashback, and to the gorgeous performances by Severo, Fallabela and Santoro (the veteran Fagundes' performance is not up to his usual standard, but that's not his fault: his character is bovinely calm and does not demand much of him), the movie picture delivers very well. It is never boring and surprises you all the time, with humor, good storytelling and delightful insights and lines. Photography and sound are absolutely world class, and the musical background is marvelous (the leitmotiv for Carolina is the beautiful melody Dindi, composed many years ago by Tom Jobim).

The final (I will not spoil the surprise) is quite emotional, and it is hard to anyone to avoid some tears.

For me, this is what movies should be about. Technically well done, esthetically beautiful; entertaining, but at the same time thoughtful and intellectually fulfilling. It is interesting to observe how the "feeling" of good Brazilian movies are so different from movies from other countries. I am a Brazilian, so I don't know for sure, but I would like to read what Americans, Europeans or Asiatics feel when they watch this artful and creative landscape of human emotions and relationships according to our national character.

The director Daniel Filho is to be applauded for one more victory of the new Brazilian cinema, with so many recent international triumphs, such as Cidade de Deus, Abril Despedaçado, Central do Brasil, and others.

Registro no IMdb:

Escrito por Dr. Renato Sabbatini às 06h49
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O Jardineiro Fiel

The Constant Gardener (2005)

Director: Fernando Meirelles

Hearts and minds: how the mind of a British writer is transformed by the eyes of a Brazilian
Published in: Internet Movie Database (, 16 Oct. 05

This film is truly magnificent, a work of genius, one of the best I've ever seen. Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles, of "City of God" fame (unjustly passed over by this year's Oscar, but very justly voted by IMDb fans as one of the 100 best films ever) delivers a cinematic masterpiece that deserves a place even higher in the "One Hundred Best". This is how movies should be done, the fusion of mind and heart, of social conscience with sheer visual emotion, riveted into place with gorgeous acting. Pain and love, the quality of color, the jarring images, the breathtaking views of an Africa which is beautiful at a distance, as seen from above, but transmutes into overpopulation, disease, poverty, dejection, suffering, crime, corruption and horror when you really get down.

Le Carré's novel is superb, as always (he is one of the Cold War spy book authors who actually survived to the end of the Evil Empire). But, my opinion is that he needed Meirelles to improve on his harrowing story: only a Brazilian director could do this. European and American eyes and minds couldn't just look into the social picture with the same feeling for detail and meaning as Meirelles has done (in the same style as COG, which, by the way, was haunting and shocking even to Brazilians, who are accustomed to the horrors of developing countries.)

Congratulations to Meirelles, Fiennes, Weisz and all other members of the team who gave such a gift to all fans of movie picture quality. I hope Meirelles gets the Oscar now.

Registro no IMDb:

Categoria: Resenhas de cinema
Escrito por Dr. Renato Sabbatini às 17h02
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Crítica do filme Abril Despedaçado

ABRIL DESPEDAÇADO (Behind the Sun, 2001)
Director: Walter Salles

A triumph of good movie-making

Published in: Internet Movie Database (, 28 Nov 04.

This movie starts with a blood-stained shirt hanging under a strong wind. We will learn, later on, that it belongs to the eldest son of a small rural farmer (the Breves) in the drought-plagued, sun-drenched, desperately poor Northeast region of Brazil. He was killed in an ambush by a member of another family, the Ferreiras, starting a feud (which in the past -- the year is 1910 -- was very common in this region and could last for decades). Vengeance is required by the rough peasant's honor system, but a truce period is dictated by the slow yellowing of the blood stains under the sun.

One of the things that are extraordinary in this gorgeous movie is the way we learn all this. The slow tempo of images, their rough poetic beauty, with an eerie musical background, tells everything we must know without words, but with skillful dramatic suspense. A lot of symbolism is also present: for instance, the sugarcane mill operated by the Breves family is powered by a pair of bulls walking endlessly around. The family patriarch is behind them all the time, forcing with a whip and shouts their round about. The oxen are so used to it that when the yoke is removed at the end of the day, they continue marching by their own around the mill! So, this is an apt metaphor for the routine, yoked, forced existence of the family under the weight of the father's authority and of tradition, an existence they see as a kind of inescapable karma.

The remaining eldest son of the Breves (played superbly by Rodrigo Santoro) must now exact revenge on his dead brother. There is no way out, so, reluctantly, he does just that and kills the eldest son of the Ferreira family in a dramatic sequence, one of the best filmed I ever saw. He knows now that he will have a truce, too, until the bloodied shirt of his enemy yellows. His life is now divided into two, as the blind patriarch of the Ferreira clan tells him: the 20 years he has lived so far, and a week or so he still has to live, because death will surely come and he cannot dishonor his family by running away. The mutual killing cycle will so be like their bleak lives and the oxen's. It will be like two serpents eating each other tails until nothing remains, just a pool of blood (another touching metaphor described by one the characters). He has never known love, and will never know. April, the month when all this happened, was torn up (the meaning of the title in Portuguese, which was disgracefully altered in the English title).

The film's ambiance alternates between blinding sun and the dried up "caatinga" (the semi-arid plains typical of this region) and the darkness of the night, lighted only by primitive oil lamps and candles. Night always bring respite and rest, to the oxen as well as to the humans, but it also brings fear. The eldest son wants to escape from this life, to interrupt the oppressing lifestyle, to revolt against the symbol of all this, his father, and to stop the revenge cycle. He doesn't know how, but the sudden appearance of a two-person circus in the village changes everything. The metaphor is now apparent: a beautiful girl shows him that love is possible, that a new life elsewhere is possible, that there are many other things beyond his narrow horizon of poor peasant. His young brother gets a book as a gift from the girl and this opens up marvelous, fascinating storytelling and daydreaming, of constructing a new reality where the boy is hero and is desired, with a plot he can change at his will. Both brothers see a light at the end of the tunnel, a dark passage to a brighter day.

The movie paces up now to a climax that everybody is able to feel, the characters as well as the audience. The assassin is coming for him, the shirt stains have finally yellowed. Night falls and he meets for the first time his love. Heavy rain starts, a new metaphor, because it is so rare and so unexpected. Will this mean that there will be a way out for him, a meeting of a new life and world, a blossoming of life like the one is brought by rain in this parched land? How can he escape without dishonor to his family, without having to kill again?

The answer is at the same time simple and fully symbolic, too. I will not spoil the surprise, but I must say that is absolutely impressive and emotion-laden. When you see the film, you will understand the solution to this impasse, painful for some, liberating to others.

This is another triumph for young director Salles and his team, one of the best of the new breed of Brazilian cinema directors. His previous international success, "Central do Brasil" was excellent, too, and very properly incensed by critics and public alike. "Motorcycle Diaries" is also another movie by him, very well received. But "Abril Despedaçado" belongs to the rare category of a true masterpiece.

Registro no IMDb:

Escrito por Dr. Renato Sabbatini às 14h10
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