Anjos do Sol
Screen Time: 95%
Age: 11 years old
Anjos do Sol
Directed: Rudi Lagemann
In Northeastern of Brazil, the father of the twelve years old illiterate Maria sells his daughter to Tadeu to be employed as a housemaid and have a better life. However, the girl is resold to the farmer Lourenço that deflowers her, and he gives the abused girl to his teenager son to have his first sexual experience. Then she is sent to a brothel in a gold field in Amazonas and explored his owner, the despicable Saraiva. When Maria escapes to Rio de Janeiro expecting a better life, she is exploited by Madame Vera.
Movie ReviewsSincere, didactic, sentimental, predictable account of how 12 year-old Maria (inexperienced, doe-eyed Fernanda Carvalho) is sold by her own destitute parents in Northern Brazil to be employed as a housemaid, instead ends up being forced to work as a prostitute under slave-like conditions in an indigent brothel in the Amazon, run by evil Saraiva (Antonio Calloni). Overcoming all odds, Maria manages to escape to Rio de Janeiro, where she hopes her life will change for better when she meets Vera (Darlene Glória, the unforgettable star of "Toda Nudez Será Castigada", unrecognizable after a series of unsuccessful face-lifts)...but will it?
The theme is important and urgent: child prostitution exists in most Third World countries (well, I guess everywhere...), but in Northern Brazil it takes endemic proportions, as it's not unusual for destitute parents to sell their own daughters to brothels, in a region where virginity is still a valuable commodity, and men pay high prices to deflower virgin child prostitutes, not remotely à la "Pretty Baby" glamorization. The fact that documentaries on the subject are difficult to make due to legal issues (they're underage!) makes fictionalized films like these essential and director/writer Rudi Lagemann shows he did his research homework. Nevertheless, the film seldom clicks, due to the usual weak points in contemporary Brazilian fiction film-making: the loose/inefficient direction of actors, the predictability of plot development, the abuse of formulaic characters and unconvincing/flat dialog.
If the film is ultimately frustrating, it's mainly due to cliché cardboard good vs. evil characters and the fact that we can outguess nearly every next sequence. The dialog seldom rings true, marred by the awkward acting of the young cast (with the exception of talented and more experienced Mary Sheyla), the mix of unlikely accents and the shameless scenery-chewing of the veterans (especially Calloni and Darlene Glória, while usually reliable Chico Díaz and Vera Holtz resort to ticks and tricks; Otávio Augusto is fine, as usual). The mix of professional and non-professional actors never lets the film impose its tone (it keeps teetering between melodrama and docu-realism). Visually, the film is also contradictory, as Lagermann indulges in carefully planned framings and complex camera movements that belie (and soften) the urgent, raw, ugly theme.
I sincerely wish I could recommend this film heartily; it IS a labor of love, well-intentioned and deals with an important issue. But if you want to see a really great Brazilian film about child exploitation and prostitution (among other throbbing themes), try to find the brand new DVD release of "Iracema -- Uma Transa Amazônica". That one is a real punch in the stomach and a completely successful mix of cinéma- vérité, improvisation and fiction, still as urgent and shocking as it was 30 years ago, and which -- tragically -- hasn't dated at all.