Linha de Passe

Posted March 12, 2009 in DVD/Digital Reviews

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For director Walter Salles this ensemble drama marks not only a return to the teeming Brazilian urban milieu of his breakthrough feature Central Station but a reunion with its young star, Vinícius de Oliveira, who trained for four years to perfect the footballing skills he displays here as one of the city's many young hopefuls. Thousands clog the major clubs' selection process each week, but once you hit eighteen the tryouts are over. De Oliveira's Dario isn't getting any younger but his dream sustains him in the meantime, unlike his sibling Dinho (José Geraldo Rodrigues), who's beginning to doubt his religion, and Dęnis (Joăo Baldasserini), who can't see any way forward as he slogs it out as a motorcycle courier. Apple of his hard-working mum's eye is Reginaldo (Kaíquede Jesus Santos), who's never met his father but has a funny feeling it might be the bus-driver on his route to school…
The crisscross of individual fortunes in a tough city environment has become almost a sub-genre in recent years, and it's to the credit of Salles and co-director Daniela Thomas that their story never feels like it's being manipulated for dramatic impact, eschewing the shock values of the likes of City of God to draw a portrait of undemonstrative authenticity. It's a graceful, compassionate film, working towards a note of watchful optimism as the possibility of self-determination makes its hesitant entrance into these circumscribed lives.



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