I sprawled upon “Central do Brasil” a night ago, in its amusing brilliance, stimulating and rusty to its heart. This movie is space away from the conventions of a regular feature and Walter Salles’s directorial Brazilian cinema is about a single women cross path with a lonely boy. The film is argued to be, by Salles himself, a metaphor for the search for identity, both personal, in the case on the main characters, Dora and Josue into the journey to a search for a Brazilian identity, which speaks of faith, permeates culture and complex parallel to their own odyssey
Salles earlier being a documentary film maker with such a remarkable talent went on to make the momentous films like Abril Despedaçado and The Motorcycle Diaries followed with this. Central do Brasil, is his fame to the international repute, is so subtle, candid and effortlessly poignant. The movie shifts to the road gear journey, every passage ridge with unsullied emotion. It’s an incredibly personal film, and often it is so personal that we want to look away because we feel like we’re trespassing, uninvited and undeserved, into the lives of very real people we quietly ignore in our very lives….this movie stars Fernanda Montenegro as Dora, a retired school teacher and Vinícius de Oliveira as Josue as a poor nine year old kid.
Co-written by Marcos Bernstein, Walter Salles and Carneiro in its delicate and pragmatic layer, the film heightens the strong sense of Brazil’s penurious rural backdrop with the strangely paired characters that are so flawed, so human, that they virtually turn out to be the very real quintessence of working-class Brazil. Indeed can’t see why to any further extent. I mean, to be perfectly fair, that film is much more esthetically enthralling into a dizzyingly powerful whirl of color and energy
The plot opens with Dora, a disillusioned retired schoolteacher, who works at Rio de Janeiro’s Central Station. She helps illiterate customers writing letters, and thus makes her ends meet. At times of her aggravated trait, she goes irritated with her customers ignoring their letters and notes without posting the mail and sometimes tearing them away. The scene shifts to Josue, a poor 9-year-old kid, never met his father; hopes to do so as his mother grace a note through Dora, saying she hope to reunite with him soon. But his fate has another say, as she gets killed in a bus accident outside the train station, which lives the boy homeless and alone.
Dora traffics him to a corrupt couple. Notwithstanding her cynical bitterness and obvious loathing for children and in her sense of her guilt over her neighbor and friend Irene, Dora grudgingly takes him home, as her friend Irene finds Josue adorable and is happy to help him. But Dora with her other plans, desires to sell Josue to an adoption racket and effectively trade him in for a new television set.
In that primary situation, she cultivates certain kind of unwillingness to be responsible for the boy, besides her scheme successively gets Dora into so much trouble that she abruptly decides to leave town and agrees to take Josue to reunite with his father’s home and take him on a trip to Northeast Brazil in search of his dad and hence their wild chase begin, whom the boy says is a carpenter named Jesus. These are the events that move the audience off into the countryside, and take both these hard-bitten travelers into parts unknown.
We see on the journey-Dora tries to leave Josue on the bus, but he willingly follows her, forgetting his backpack contain Dora’s money. Impoverished and penniless, they are picked up by a caring, Evangelical truck driver who abandons them when Dora encourages him to drink beer and then grows too friendly. Salles brings great sensitivity and surprise to the events that intersperse this campaign, from the boy’s drunken outburst on a bus to Dora’s shy flirtation with a trucker she meets along the way. By the time the travelers are caught up in a religious pilgrimage, the film’s journey leads on two converging path, in an intense burgeoning spirituality and the sense of unworldly encounter.
It becomes visibly clear that one doesn’t learn through meditative exploration, tenacious acceptance comes through doing and experiences shared. So while Josue and Dora provide this lesson’s context, with notable excellence, and that said, the relationship that they create, from a plausible predicament, is one that you can really care for and about. It’s a joy watching Dora rediscover life itself, not in an indecisive cataclysm, but through incremental steps on a path never to be completed. Perpetually impatient losing her vanity, she finds herself regaining a long-lost faith in life and in the very humanity she scorned when those letter writers come her way. Montenegro as Dora in complete control of her character is absolute paradigm. Yet for all of her experience, young Oliveira, a shoeshine boy matches Montenegro in his sparkling freshness, his way of expression and contact is pure adolescence.
Undeniably, this film is too well-made with the exemplar Walter Carvalho’s photography is breathtaking through the Brazilian country ride and it’s the filmmaker’s graceful restraint that makes such feelings so deeply felt. Absolute Salles directs modestly and carefully, with an eye that seems to penetrate all the characters that are encountered on Dora’s and Josue’s journey with the setting of Antonio and Jacque’s gentle piano in those bumpy roads, intensifies rapid-fire virtuoso and exhilarates rhetorical panache of a high order, and embrace the world that ‘Central do Brasil’ stares for and the occasion feeling of uncertainty can truly be a relative one……
- Directed by Walter Salles
- Produced by Martine de Clermont-Tonnerre; Arthur Cohn & Donald Ranvaud
- Co-Written by Walter Salles; & Carneiro & Marcos Bernstein
- Casting: Fernanda Montenegro & Vinícius de Oliveira
- Music by: Antonio Pinto & Jaques Morelenbaum
- Cinematography: Walter Carvalho
- Edited by Felipe Lacerda
- Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics (USA) & Europa Filmes (Brazil)
- Release dates: 3 April 1998 (Brazil)
- Run time of 106 minutes
- Country : Brazil & France
- Language: Portuguese