Central Station

Do you like a good road picture? If so, "Central do Brasil" (English captions) is just for YOU. I watched this highly lauded 1998 Brazilian movie (41 wins and 17 nominations) many years ago and was convinced that the lead actress, Fernanda Montenegro was a lock for a Best Actress Oscar. When Gwyneth Paltrow won for "Shakespeare in Love" I was shocked and deeply disappointed.

This R-rated film gives us complex characters, i.e., no one is totally good or totally bad; plus we have two people to root for and a travelogue of little-known places as our characters ride through Brazil via bus and truck. The language is Portuguese so we hear unusual words and pronunciation. Expect profanity, but no violence, gunshots or blowie uppie stuff. A fatality is only implied by the reaction shots of bystanders.

We see:
  • Fernanda Montenegro is Isadora, a former school teacher who makes her living writing letters for illiterates who throng through the Central Railway Station in Rio. She collects her modest fees, but she may or may not actually mail the letters.
  • Merilia Pêra is her neighbor Irene, also a former teacher, who drinks beer with Isadora in the evenings as they laugh at some of the letters before they decide if they are going to throw them away or mail them.
  • Vinicius de Oliviera is Josué, a little boy who came with his mother when she dictated a letter to his absent father.
When the mother is suddenly killed by a bus outside the station, Josué has no place to go and no one to help him. By default, Isadora is the only familiar face, so he latches onto her...reluctantly. He suspects she hasn't mailed that letter to his dad.

She finds an orphanage willing to pay for a handsome little boy and she wants a new TV set, so she sells him. When Isadora tells her neighbor, Irene is shocked and explains that those people do NOT find adoptive homes, they kill the children and harvest their organs! That is the first, but not the only, surprise in this marvelous script.

This is only the beginning.... This is exciting, interesting, realistic and upbeat.
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