Fernanda Montenegro

Fernanda Montenegro

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The Other Side of the Street Review


Good
If the idea of a septuagenarian variation on the old Rear Window scenario sounds appealing (no Grace Kelly, more's the pity), then the Brazilian film The Other Side of the Street should do the trick. If not, this is still a film worthy of consideration, as it's more than the sum of its fairly negligible plot device.

Regina (Fernanda Montenegro) is a 65-year-old retiree living by herself in Rio de Janeiro, whose high-rise apartment faces the long wall of windows of another, slightly nicer, high-rise apartment building across the street. Hers seems a life of quiet desperation, long walks in the busy streets with her dog, sleepless nights, the occasional outing with her grandson, but mostly one big long sigh of boredom. The first inkling that something is askew is the night she gets dolled up and heads out to a nightclub where she's older than any of the other clientele by at least three decades. Blending in behind the thudding music and grinding couples, she sees a woman being manhandled by some thug, after which Regina buys the woman a drink and starts chatting her up. The next day, the thug is hauled off by the police, and headlines blare about the breaking up of a prostitution ring. Regina's a police informant, codename "Snow White," and it's pretty much the only thing keeping her going.

Continue reading: The Other Side of the Street Review

Central Station Review


Good
Heralded by critics and film fans -- and rightly so -- Central Station is the story of an unlikely friendship between the 67-year-old Dora (Fernanda Montenegro) and a 10-year-old boy Josué (Vinicius de Oliviera). Dora works as a letter writer (employed by the illiterate) in the busy Rio de Janeiro train station. Josué's mother pays Dora to write a letter to Josué's long-missing father, only to be run over by a bus moments later. Out of guilt (namely since she rarely mails the letters people pay her to write -- instead laughing over them with her roommate), she takes Josué into her home and eventually on a difficult journey to a remote section of Brazil to find Josué's father.

It's a fascinating, small, tale, held together by lush photography (and sadly, substantially weakened by a sorry, repetitious score). Montenegro owns the picture, her emotions fully riding the surface of the film. Worth a look, even if you don't care for foreign fare.

Continue reading: Central Station Review

Fernanda Montenegro

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