Three of Brazil's top talents--Sonia Braga, director Carlos Diegues (BYE BYE BRAZIL, 1981) and Jorge Amado, on whose novel DONA FLOR AND HER TWO HUSBANDS (1978) was based--collaborated on this tepid comedy-drama about a woman's return to her family's country village 26 years after she
was kicked out.
After years of letters telling about her life as the wife of a rich Sao Paolo industrialist, Tieta (Sonia Braga) writes to say her husband has died and she and her stepdaughter Leonora (Claudia Abreu) will be coming to visit. Tieta's older sister Perpetua (Marila Pera), who was responsible for
snitching on the sexual activities that got Tieta sent packing, nevertheless schemes to get her hands on some of the money by getting Tieta to adopt one or both of her sons.
Tieta arrives, and immediately wins the good will of the villagers by calling in a favor from a senator she knows and having the village wired for electricity. She tries to hook up the sad Leonora with serious young Ascanio (Leon Goes), secretary to the village mayor. Tieta seduces Perpetua's
virtuous son Ricardo (Heitor Martinez Mello), who is studying to be a priest. Ascanio regrets a deal he brokered to bring a factory to town when Tieta reveals that it will spoil the beautiful area with highly toxic pollutants. Tieta is upset when Ricardo stands her up for a young girl; soon after,
he quits the seminary and catches the bus to Salvador. When Ascanio proposes to Leonora, she tells him the truth: Tieta is actually the madame of a successful brothel, and brought Leonora here to hide from the police after her lover was arrested for drugs. She and Tieta leave town, but at the last
minute Ascanio runs after the bus and begs Leonora to stay, which she does.
One can only assume either that Amado's novel was better fleshed out or that there's something about the story that doesn't transfer culturally, because this film does a lot of huffing and puffing without ever going anywhere. The plot is certainly busy enough, in fact too busy--there are so many
things going on that the script can't do justice to any of them. The big revelation of Tieta's true occupation is so plainly foreshadowed that it has no impact (in fact, until then it seems obvious that the viewer was intended to see through Tieta's story). And if this character is supposed to
have a tragic dimension, no one told Sonia Braga, who plays her with little sense of either tragedy or vengefulness, but simply as a woman with money in her pocket and some harmless mischief on her mind. The film is colorful and lively, which is what we have come to expect of Brazilian imports,
but never enough to sustain interest in the story. Author Amado appears as himself at the beginning of the film, introducing it from a park bench as a story he reads from a book. (Nudity, sexual situations, adult situations, profanity.)
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: NR
- Review: Three of Brazil's top talents--Sonia Braga, director Carlos Diegues (BYE BYE BRAZIL, 1981) and Jorge Amado, on whose novel DONA FLOR AND HER TWO HUSBANDS (1978) was based--collaborated on this tepid comedy-drama about a woman's return to her family's count… (more)