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Linus de Paoli [Film Festival 08.11.09] Brazil movie review news drama

Year: 2009
Directors: Esmir Filho
Writers: Esmir Filho & Ismael Caneppele
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Linus de Paoli
Rating: 8 out of 10

[Editor's note: So begins our Locarno coverage. Surprised? We're making moves in Europe, lots more to come!]

After a couple of rather disappointing films I wasn’t expecting much, but “Os Famosos E Os Duendes Da Morte” was the first truly impressive work of this year’s international competition of the Locarno Film festival! It features many mysterious elements, dreams and visions that appear almost Lynchesque, but it never gets supernatural. In the way the film deals with its characters, it is more a dreamy coming-of-age story than a thriller. And it definitely is a vivid and strong example for young Brazilian film making all along the line!

16-year-old Bob Dylan fan "Mr. Tambourine Man" lives in a small town that he refers to as "the a**hole of the world". He is bored by his real life and spends a lot of time on the Internet, the place where he posts his melancholic poems and keeps watching pictures and videos of the mysterious girl "Jingle Jangle". The clips show her and Julian, a sinister looking man in morbidly romantic scenes. When Julian shows up in person, Mr. Tambourine Man can’t deny his fascination – and fear. After all, it is likely that Julian has something to do with Jingle Jangle’s disappearance.

Don’t expect a spooky or complex story. The film concentrates on moments and emotions. But still, I don’t want to give too many details away.

Coming from Brazil, it’s surprising how the chilly ambiance seems almost Scandinavian. The film starts and ends in the darkness and even scenes that take place at daytime never seem bright. The town is shrouded in fog, which allows Mr. Tambourine Man (we never get to know his real name) to get lost in thoughts and visions when he is wandering around. He often walks in a blur for a long time, before the camera focuses on him - As if he just walked out of a dream.

The camera work is sublime and a good example for appropriate use of very different photographic styles. For example: In the first scene the mysterious girl Jingle Jangle and Julian are running through the fields. He is filming her, while she puts a plastic bag on her head and takes a deep breath in. The camera zooms out and the video becomes an online broadcast that our protagonist is watching. Although most of the film was shot in 35mm, Mr. Tambourine Man’s visions and almost all material of Jingle Jangle are shaky webcam clips. But cinematographer Mauro Pinheiro Jr. masters the format change with great elegance.

Esmir Filho generally does an amazing job on his debut. The precise timing and convincing, tri-dimensional performances prove his great sensibility for the work with actors. All characters are played by local kids. For most of them it was the first time in a feature film.

The only thing I would criticize about "Os Famosos…" is that some passages feel a bit repetitive. After about 60 minutes important facts are being revealed. So I thought that everything was told and the movie should end now. But it didn’t and it took a while until it got my attention back. But it is excusable that some scenes of Mr. Tambourine Man drifting around town or online might appear redundant. Due to many powerful moments, the allover experience is absorbing and exciting. I had no problem letting the film “hypnotize” me – and liked it a lot.

For those who can’t get enough: it is possible to dive a little deeper into the world of "Os Famosos...". The script is based on a novel of the same title that was written by Ismael Caneppele who stars as Julian in the film. During the production a variety of videos were generated that were not used in the movie. They were posted online, where they can be played as individual clips. (Check them out on youtube). Tuane Eggers, who plays the girl also put a lot of content on her fotolog and flickr account – all the pictures in the film are hers. That is the reason why Esmir Filho calls "Os Famosos E Os Duendes Da Morte" not a film but "a movement".

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Marina (13 years ago) Reply

I only skimmed the review for keywords since I want a surprise when I eventually get to see this (hopefully at some point in the near future) but it seems be hitting all of the right chords. Very happy to see that it's as good as the trailer suggested.

Look forward to reading more of the Locarno coverage!


Anonymous (13 years ago) Reply

Nice review. This movie sounds pretty sweet.


Cyberhal (13 years ago) Reply

interesting. Thanks for the review

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