Linha de Passe

A city of over twenty million people, São Paulo presents many challenges and too few opportunities. For a mother and her four fatherless sons, the city is a confusing metropolis of many temptations and few clear guidelines. As directors Walter Salles (Central Station) and Daniela Thomas masterfully show, however, it does offer choices besides joining gangs and dealing drugs. Dario pins his hopes on soccer, despite being a little too old for recruitment. Dênis is a motorcycle courier, forced to consider criminal activities in order to support a child he fathered. Dinho, working in a gas station, finds hope and meaning in attending an evangelical church. Finally, Reginaldo, the youngest, is obsessed with finding his father, only knowing that the man is one of the city's countless bus drivers. Cleuza, the mother of this difficult brood, is a loving parent, though slightly at a loss when it comes to giving her kids the support and skills they need. As the foundation for this familial, character-rich story, Salles and Thomas use a probing style, getting under the surface of São Paulo, showing more than favelas and fighting and using a cast of largely nonprofessional actors to add to the film's verisimilitude. Sandra Corveloni brings an aura of world-weariness to the part of Cleuza and deservedly won the Best Actress Prize in Cannes. And those who remember Vinícius de Oliveira, the charming little boy Josué from Salles's Central Station, will be thrilled to see him a decade later as the athletic Dario. Memorable and moving, Linha de Passe is a triumph of neorealist storytelling.

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