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Man of the Year (O Homem do Ano) (15)

Review by: Graeme Kay | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Cast and crew biographies; Making of featurette; Discoveries Film Programme trailer reel; Stills gallery; Trailer.

TENSE, darkly comic film that takes its lead from Pulp Fiction.

Maiquel (Murilo Benecio) is a slightly confused native of a grim Brazilian city, which may or may not be Rio.

His dream is to get a job,any job will do, settle down and raise a family. Unfortunately, not being the brightest button in the box, the chances of him achieving his goals seem somewhat remote.

Until, that is, the day, as forfeit for losing a bet, he has his jet black locks dyed strawberry blonde and, as a result, faces ridicule in his local bar from neighbourhood hard-man, Suel.

Enraged by Suel's taunts, Maiquel arranges a showdown. When the moment comes, almost by accident, he shoots and kills his tormentor and subsequently waits to be picked up by the police.

Little does Maiquel realise, however, that the murder of the thuggish Suel has caused great joy in the community.

Consequently, rather than being shunned by respectable folk, he is lionised as a local hero and lavished with gifts by the neighbourhood shopkeepers and citizens, whom Suel had previously terrorised.

From this moment on things begin to look up for Maiquel: he marries the beautiful Cledir (Claudia Abreu), has a child and even finds himself in gainful employment, as head of a security company set up be wealthy, local, racist businessmen.

But as Maiquel's willingness to kill without compunction increases, his ideal world slowly begins to fall apart…

Impressively directed by big screen debutant Jose Henrique Fonseca, Man of the Year is by turns exciting, amusing, shocking and violent.

As said previously, there are some similarities between this film and Pulp Fiction.

But whereas the latter revelled in its use of gratuitous violence, Man of the Year is more measured, using the violence as a means to underline the desperate reality of life among the underclasses, whatever city they happen to be in.

While Tarantino's movie raised few, if any, questions about the morality of the characters' actions and demanded nothing of the audience other than that they enjoy the ride, Fonseca digs deeper; raising searching questions about destiny, freewill and justice.

Thought provoking and entertaining, which is not a bad combination.

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