My first reaction deciding whether to waste time on this movie was confusion. Brazilian movies have left a positive impression, but this movie highlighted Martin Sheen, who I enjoy and another American star, Mara Rooney. What kind of mix could this be? I put it on my reserve list as a sort of filler for when I couldn't find something better. Inevitably that time arrives.
A big surprise. Almost from the beginning one could appreciate this is no amateur production. One comment I read was that it really was American expertise, but checking closely it has quite an international contribution, but is rooted deeply in Brazilian realities. A lot to enjoy.
It alls start with the writing. Andy Mulligan wrote the book. He is an Englishman but had spent time in Brazil, Vietnam and Philippines as an English and drama instructor. "Trash" was his second book and at one point had been nominated for a children's book award, but was rejected because it contained violence and strong language.
Richard Curtis born in Wellington, New Zealand wrote the screenplay. An earlier film, "About Time" was one of my favourites watched in 2014. He also wrote "War Horse," " Notting Hill "and "Four Weddings and a Funeral."
As with many movie plots it is difficult to credit a series of improbable events that lead to a desirable conclusion, but they are not inconceivable. Years of research on a family tree have convinced me that all of us are the result of a series of improbable events. This movie provides clues so you don't feel that the outcome hid important information from you. This viewer found it credible enough and more importantly intriguing. By intriguing, we all are looking for something fresh, but obviously there are few totally new plots.
A lot of the dialogue is from street boys. As an outsider it seemed realistic and I suspect is one of the contributions of Felipe Braga who was credited as a writer providing extra material. He had been born in Rio de Janeiro and written a number of Brazilian movie and tv. scripts.
Stephen Daldrey, the director has a reputation of working well with youngsters, one example being "Billy Elliot" and another, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close." One of a director's tasks is to make the actors seem believable. Other of his movies I have enjoyed include, "The Reader" and "The Hours."
Chase scenes were on foot, but very intense.
Christian Duurvoort was credited as being a co-director. He has a background as an acting coach in such films as "Blindness" (read the book, but not yet seen the movie) and "The Pope's Toilet." His work must have been recognized as this was his first credit as a director.
Martin Sheen and Mara Rooney both speak a few words in Portuguese, but they do not pretend to be fluent. Their roles really were supporting, but necessary to get financing and marketing. The main characters are three boys played by Rickson Tevis, Eduardo Luis and Gabriel Weinstein. Some prominent Brazilian actors had key roles. Wagner Moura who recently played Pablo Escobar in the mini series "Narcos" and Selton Mello played a corrupt police officer. There were many supporting actors and they all played their roles well.
English plays a role when a code has to be broken and it is based on an English Bible. The unilingual Brazilian boys struggle and stumble (logically) on the clues.
Editing is mainly behind the scenes. You really don't usually catch it. In this movie several times they want you to realize different events are happening at the same time so you feel the noose tightening. It is done very well. Elliot Graham has also edited "Milk," "Restless." and "X-Men 2" (which I have not seen).
Brazilian music has a type of celebration that people associate with good times. A wide variety is used in the background. La Traviata by Verdi is a nice touch for one scene. Antonio Pinto added original music which I had bought from "Central Station." Other movies he composed for include "Self/less," "McFarland USA," and "City of God."
Adriano Goldman, the cinematographer did a stunning job. It is usual to expect scenic vista shots, but a lot of ordinary shots were extraordinary. Some others of his films I have enjoyed included "August: Osage County," "Conviction," "Xingu" and "The Year My Parents Went on Vacation" (discussed in link below).
Filmed in Rio de Janeiro mostly in poorer sections with some scenes shot in Puerto Rico.
A few years back I discovered Brazilian films (and also Argentinian) and wrote a blog you might find interesting with a few connections to this current blog: http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2012/05/two-latin-american-movie-making-powers.html