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TOP 100 MOVIES in 2008!
Cleuza lives in the poor outskirts of Sao Paulo with her four sons born from four different – and indifferent – fathers. Pregnant again, she desperately tries to keep her idiosyncratic family together, while her sons are each attempting to forge an identity and life of their own – clashing with the merciless constraints of their social status as well as the Brazilian urban jungle in the process.
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After a stint in Hollywood and two major productions (“Motorcycle Diaries” 2004 and “Dark Water” 2005), Walter Salles teams back with Daniela Thomas and returns to his cinematic roots with compelling “Linha de Passe”.
The two directors rely on a very limited budget to tell a simple story of real life in the Brazilian metropolis – and to be honest, the film does not even have much of a story. Rather, it paints a picture, takes a snapshot of raw life and presents it to us with brutal, no-frills honesty. And ‘no-frills’ does not only mean that there is no happy ending: real life is not a romantic comedy, but nor is it a gangster movie, which is why “Linha de Passe” is refreshingly free of the favela-gangs-clichés that characterise most recent films dealing with a similar topic.
The film is an exercise in restraint. From his previous work, we know what beauty can be created by Walter Salles’ photography choices. Here, the cinematography, along with the music, the editing, and even the performances themselves, keep a much lower profile – which is why a Best Actress award for Sandra Corveloni (Cannes 2008) seems somehow inappropriate.
The different tools of filmmaking are not set to blow the viewer away; rather, they are instrumental in conveying the straightforward reality of simple yet difficult lives, of shy hopes and repressed dreams, recurrent disappointments and the fragile isolation of the individual. Men and women, mothers and sons, workers and believers – everyone tries to find their place in the confusing, overwhelming and ever-changing world of a metropolis in modern-day Brazil. There are no spectacular successes or failures, no distinct winners or losers – just the constant flow that is life, equally filled with struggle as it is with magic.
It is only in consistence with this that the ending does not provide any relief, any closure, any distinct perspectives. It remains completely open, as does life. It seems to be beckoning both the film characters and the viewers to keep on living, and thereby shaping individual and collective futures.
Achieving meaningful depth with incredible subtlety and sensitivity, “Linha de Passe” stands out as a remarkable example of contemporary Brazilian filmmaking, and can be highly recommended to discerning audiences.