Linha De Passe
Review by Jack Foley
AT A time when most movies coming out of Brazil at the moment seem to be concentrating on gang violence and police corruption around Rio, the directing partnership of Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas (of Central Station fame) decide to show an alternative side to the country.
Hence Linha De Passe unfolds in Sao Paulo and examines the life of one family as it attempts to make a life for itself in a city of 20 million inhabitants, 200 kilometres of traffic jams and 300,000 motorcycle messengers.
Denis (Joao Baldasserini), Dinho (Jose Geraldo Rodrigues), Dario (Vinicius De Oliveira) and Reginaldo (Kaiquede Jesus Santos) are four brothers from different fathers whose mother (Sandra Corveloni) is expecting her fifth child. Each of them pursues a different option in the hope of escaping the poverty that surrounds them.
The oldest pursues a career as a motorcycle courier, another dreams of becoming a footballer, the third follows a path towards religion, and the youngest rides the buses every day in the hope of finding his father.
All four of the boys stories were inspired by real-life tales and each of the unknown actors throw themselves wholeheartedly into proceedings. De Oliveira, for instance, spent six months training in actual junior soccer leagues in Sao Paulo for his football scenes, while Baldasserini does his own driving for the courier sequences (which have to be seen to be believed).
It’s this devotion to the project that heightens the authenticity of the story and which ensures that Linha De Passe offers a compelling – and at times heartbreaking – insight into life in a vastly over-populated city. There are no easy choices, and the threat of crime (or allure of it) is never far away.
Salles’ film is far from obvious, though, and unfolds at such a deliberate pace that you’ll be completely engrossed with the characters long before the poignant conclusion leaves you with plenty to think about afterwards.
Just occasionally, the film does feel its length but in most respects, Salles (who remains best known for The Motorcycle Diaries) has succeeded in crafting another compelling portrait of life in another country. It’s a frequently eye-opening experience.
(In Portuguese with subtitles)
Running time: 113mins
UK DVD Release: March 2, 2009