Brazilian filmmaker Jose Jofilly's blunt, fact-based cautionary tale follows the sad, short life of Fernando Ramos de Silva, a street child from one of Rio de Janeiro's notorious favelas who was plucked briefly from obscurity to star in Hector Babenco's PIXOTE (1981 ), and spent the rest of his life trying to recapture his moment of glory. Rio, 1980: Ten-year-old Fernando (Thiago Vidal), already familiar with hustling a living on the streets, is photographed by a talent scout and hired to play a street urchin in a gritty film about lost slum children. With his wide eyes and gamine charm, cute little Fernando captivates critics and moviegoers; PIXOTE becomes an international phenomenon, spoken of as a modern-day companion to Luis Bunuel's excoriating LOS OLVIDADOS (1950), and the money Fernando earns allows his mother to buy a modest house. But eight years later, the dream has soured: Fernando (Cassiano Carneiro) still lives at home with his mother and siblings, and the only one bringing in any mony is his eldest brother, Cafu (Tuca Andrada), who steals cars. Unable to find acting work and ashamed of the occasional handouts he takes from the director (Anselmo Vasconcelos) who showed him a world of possibilities that now seems forever out of reach, Fernando and his younger brother, Kiko (Savio Pinhero), rob a house and get caught; Kiko gets away, but Fernando is thrown into jail and earns the lasting enmity of Officer Lobato (Roberto Bontempo). The remnants of Fernando's fame buys him a second chance, and he begins dating pretty factory worker Cida (Luciana Rigueira), who's had a crush on him ever since she saw his picture in a magazine. Fernando tries to straighten up, but even after an old acquaintance pulls strings to get him a gig on a telenovela, he fails Fernando has no training and he's functionally illiterate. The brutal disparity between Fernando's pie-in-the-sky dreams, which once seemed within reach, and the grinding desperation of his real life drives him to dope-smoking and a series of jobs organized by Cafu's lowlife associates. Former-child-star stories don't come more melodramatically dreadful than de Silva's, but Jofilly's coarse, awkward film was based on not one, but two books, one by Jose Louziero, on whose novel A Infancia dos Mortos PIXOTE was based and the other by de Silva's young widow, the real-life Cida, but it fails to evoke any true sense of tragedy.
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: NR
- Review: Brazilian filmmaker Jose Jofilly's blunt, fact-based cautionary tale follows the sad, short life of Fernando Ramos de Silva, a street child from one of Rio de Janeiro's notorious favelas who was plucked briefly from obscurity to star in Hector Babenco's PI… (more)