Thursday, June 9, 2011

Central Station

Central Station - 113min – R

I have always been a fan of redemption stories. In this movie, Isadora's redemption is done in such a dynamic way that I can say my feelings about her transform with her through her journey. Her quest to bring a young boy to his father makes her face some things from her past she has not dealt with. This movie does a wonderful job of taking us through several settings in Brazil -- from the very rough streets of the city to the laid-back countryside. This movie is a combination of buddy road picture and redemption film. From a filmmaker’s standpoint there are several technical aspects of this movie I respect. This is one of the films that I was assigned to watch for a film class. It has a green light from me, please rent this film and enjoy. The movie is not one I would normally seek out. I enjoy foreign films and subtitles do not scare me away, but I didn’t think the cover made it sound very interesting. I was pleasantly surprised to find such a hidden gem. It’s worth a look.

The story is about Isadora (Fernanda Montenegro) an ex-schoolteacher who makes her living writing letters for people who are illiterate. She meets a mother (Soia Lira) and her son (Vinícius de Oliveira) who wants to send a letter to the boy’s father. A tragic accident leaves the boy alone on the streets of Rio de Janeiro. At first, Isadora is a completely despicable character. She bilks the uneducated out of the money she makes for writing the letters -- taking their money but never sending any of the letters. She looks for an angle to make money off the boy’s misfortunes. She then realizes her mistake and decides to take him to see his father as he is his only living relative. On the journey to find the boy’s father, she has to deal with issues from her past and grow as a person. By the film’s end, both characters have learned much from their experiences and emerge as completely different characters.

I want to take a quick moment to talk about the brilliant work that Montenegro does in this film, she does portray two completely different people in this move, I truly despised her at the beginning of this film, by the end I see he as a hopeful and caring person. Her work on this picture is a testament to her art, as the film passes; she does a superb job of making the transition in a believable and compelling way. The other person who deserves a nod is de Oliveira. He is a talented young actor who was a shoe shine boy before he performed in this movie and did an amazing job. His character is the catalyst that gets Isadora to move out of her normal life to grow and. He captures the vulnerability of a boy going through a horrific experience. He plays at putting on airs of strength, but he is still a boy. This is a remarkable picture and the chemistry between these two was magic.

Walter Salles directed this picture; he chose to make this film in sequence that means the first scene of the film was shot first. The rest of the shots were filmed as they came up in the movie. Typically films are shot out of order and the edited together. I have made a few films and most of them were done out of order to better accommodate the cast or locations we had access to. I have done a few films shot in sequence primarily for The Shootout Boulder. It’s a 24 hour film making festival that highlights the fact the films were created within 24 hours and can have no editing. You have to shoot it in sequence. It is a challenging task and I respect Salles for creating this film in this way. The second really cool thing is he has had very little set dressing on this movie; they used all actual locations in their natural settings. This does show the bright and vibrant colors that surround the people of Brazil. Salles does a great job of making sure the film comes across as a natural and clean environment.

I am going to ask you this time is there things in your life you have wanted to change? The reason I ask is because the theme of this movie was change. Now, I am not asking you to find a boy and travel across the country to get them back to their relatives. Are there things in your life that you would like to change for the better? Make those changes. You know what they are, just do it. I am...well I am trying at least.

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