Thursday, 7 January 2010

You're Worthless, And Yet, He Still Wants To Meet You.

I just can't think of an interesting way to open this entry, so I'm just going to dive in. Maybe it's indicative of the film...

Central Station (or Central do Brasil) is the story of Dora (Fernanda Montenegro), a retired elementary school teacher who now writes letters for those who cannot from a stand in Rio De Janeiro's central railway station. She writes a letter for a woman and her young son to the woman's alcoholic ex, the father of the son Josué (Vinícius de Oliveira), moments before the mother is hit by a bus. Josué ends up hanging around the station, waiting for his mother to return, until eventually Dora takes pity on him and takes him home.

The next day she takes him to an orphanage (apparently) where she receives payment for him, with the lady running it saying he'll be adopted out to an international family. Dora's friend tells her that he will, in fact, be carved up for his organs, and Dora breaks him out before they embark on a search across the country for Josué's father. What keeps them going? Dora is in obvious peril if she returns to Rio after screwing around this organ-farming/adoption company, and Josué can't help but believe that his father will be a good person who will have cleaned up his act and will take care of him.

It's a nice film. Montenegro's performance is very good, and probably deserving of her Best Actress Oscar nod, and director Walter Salles does a nice little warm-up for his superior The Motorcycle Diaries six years later. But it just didn't grab me the way I kept hoping it would. It never really warmed me. Maybe Josué was too much of a brat, such that I couldn't really understand why she would go to so much effort (though with the money involved, she didn't really have a choice, but still - why did she come to his defense in the train station, which resulted in the proposition coming her way? I didn't believe it.) De Oliveira also did a pretty good job, considering he was seriously young and I don't think he had really had any real experience. And there were some really beautiful and poignant moments in the picture. But ultimately, meh. It's one of those pictures that I'm glad I finally got around to watching, I can now cross it off my mental list and stop being intrigued when I walk past its cover on the shelves, but I'll more than likely never watch again. 2.5 stars.


  1. I've seen this movie as well, although it wasn't talked about in the media. Fernanda Montenegro really did bring a very warm performance, and I think the modest sets and those wast and empty landscapes did a lot in depicting the desperate situation in which they got trapped.

  2. I do agree. It just didn't grab me. And I think coming off the back of a handful of movies that have been fantastic, that worked against it a little.

    I did like it. I just didn't love it. And I think that's what was intended.