BRAZILIAN WESTERN. I've looked up at enough screens to recognize a star when I see one, and there is no doubt in my mind that Brazillian television actor, Fabrício Boliveira, is a star. I'm talking the old school kind of star, a star that is both charismatic and an outstanding actor. The screen magic in Boliveira's soulful eyes and the restrained passion with which he plays his character, João, captivated me from the moment he appeared on screen.
The Brazilian title of this film is based on a famous fold ballad, Faroeste Caboclo, in which an impoverished man murders his father's killer, moves to the city and tries to eschew his life of crime when he falls in love with a middle-class young woman, Maria Lúcia (Isis Valverde). Impeding João's ability to leave a life of crime is a rival drug dealer, Jeremias, who is obsessed with Maria Lúcia. In director, René Sampaio's version of the song, the love triangle, rather than the politics, is the focus of the film--a wise decision since to veer into the politics would have slowed down the screenplay and put the focus on Maria Lúcia's senator father, and we would loose screen time with the best part of this film, Boliveira's interpretation of João. We get enough of the back story through the racial slurs cast at João, the and economic and complexion contrast between João and Maria Lúcia, and the actions of corrupt police officers, to fill in what is not expressed overtly. While I wasn't impressed with the chemistry between Boliveira and Valverde to really root for the couple, I had enough of an emotional investment in Boliveira to make up for the imbalance in the screen relationship. I can't wait to see where this young Brazilian actor's career is going; he's incredible.
iNUMBER NUMBER. After finding out that Presley Chweneyagae, the leading actor in Tsotsi was in a film at TIFF, I had to see it! iNumber Number (pronounced e-number, number) turned out to be the perfect little gangster heist (with a kicking soundtrack) that I was in the mood for, and the type of film that I would recommend to my guy friends looking to experience TIFF, but wouldn't step foot in a theatre showing an art-house movie. Chweneyagae's character, Shoes, plays the cop/sidekick to S'dumo Mtshali's (pictured above) Chilli. Chilli and Shoes are friends for life, but Chilli has become tired of playing by the rules, especially when his undercover role as a gangster exposes him to the potential riches of a bank heist. Director, Donovan Marsh, knows how to stretch his budget with pleasing spins on familiar situations, dialogue that is both witty and dark, and action sequences that pay off richly. In the mix, is the dramatic tension between the tag team duo of Shoes and Chilli, who leave us wondering if morality or economic temptation will win out at the end of the South African film.
Toronto International Film Festival
September 5 - 15, 2013
416.599.TIFF | 1.888.599.8433 | http://tiff.net/thefestival