Brazil's 2000 entry in the Academy Awards' Foreign Language Film category revisits the Appalachian-level poverty of the country's northeast, memorably explored in CENTRAL STATION (1998). This earthier, if equally lyrical, tale of a polygamous peasant woman unfolds like a sociologist's campfire tale: In a dusty village square, Darlene (Regina Casé), pregnant and in a wedding dress, finds herself stood up. It's clearly the latest setback of a rural life that's made her stoic without diluting her passion. She determinedly leaves town, but returns three years later with little but her child in tow. Sturdy and strapping, with the big hips and swollen bosom of a fertility idol, the indomitable Darlene marries fiftysomething Osias (Lima Duarte), a hammock-potato less interested in sex than acquiring a full-time cook and maid. Darlene, not the type to be pushed around, is nonetheless game — and Osias, equally pragmatic, grudgingly accepts matters when Darlene gives birth to a mixed-race child. He's less willing to overlook things when his elfin, homebody cousin Zezinho (Stênio Garcia) moves in, and Darlene has a baby with him. By the time Darlene brings fellow cane-field worker Ciro (Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos) into the household and has his child, Osias and Zezinho realize they need Darlene's feisty presence; without her, they're just two aging pensioners. Osias eventually stages an act of defiance, but the unconventional family remains. The film was inspired by news accounts of a woman in Ceara, Brazil, who lived for 10 years with, essentially, three husbands. It marks the return of the exceptional Casé, who left acting a decade ago to host a hit Brazilian talk show, and showcases Breno Silveira's world-class cinematography. Like the hardscrabble lives of this isolated wasteland, it's equal parts unforgiving white-heat aridity and golden late-afternoon glow.
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- Released: 2000
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Brazil's 2000 entry in the Academy Awards' Foreign Language Film category revisits the Appalachian-level poverty of the country's northeast, memorably explored in CENTRAL STATION (1998). This earthier, if equally lyrical, tale of a polygamous peasant woman… (more)