Dave's Rating:

4.0

… a more naturalistic view of the world …

Who's in It: Carla Ribas, Zé Carlos Machado, Berta Zemel

The Basics: Alice is a Brazilian manicurist, and her jerk of a husband is a taxi driver. They're unhappy. So is Alice's elderly mother. So are her three sons, one of whom is secretly a prostitute. In fact, everyone in the house has secrets, and Grandma sees it all. In other words, it's a bummer slice-of-life from São Paulo saved from becoming a lame soap because it refuses to indulge in melodrama.

What's the Deal? Director Chico Teixeira is more known for making documentaries than narrative features, so he gives you a more naturalistic view of the world and his characters than you'd get from a filmmaker already accustomed to fakery and the heightened situations you usually find in fiction.

The Hidden Brazil: Most of the films American art houses get from Brazil are set in either very rich or very poor environments. It's all high-life or City of God-style stuff. So it's always interesting to see one that represents the run-of-the-mill lives of working-class people.

Weirdest Part: One character tells Alice about how she shaves her pubic hair into different shapes (never having been inside a salon, I'm going to assume this kind of conversation happens all the time). So, Alice tries it herself, hoping to spice it up in the bedroom with the husband. It fails. But that's really only because he's already doing the teenage neighbor girl who's Alice's friend and confidante.

For Fans Of: The American "mumblecore" trend, where people talk around the subject and never express themselves in ways that move the plot along. Of course, there's not a lot of actual mumbling going on in any of those movies. Or here. But they're cousins of a sort.

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