The Other Side of the Street

"Very Good"

The Other Side of the Street Review


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.

As a pseudo-professional busybody, Regina has taken to watching the apartments outside her window with a pair of binoculars. One night she sees an older man give an injection to his wife. Thinking that the woman has been murdered, Regina calls the police, only to have it turn out that the man had just been administering medicine to his desperately ill wife, who did die but supposedly not from the shot. Frozen out by the police (the man turned out to be a very well-connected judge), Regina starts following the man, Camargo (Raul Cortez), on her own. Eventually Camargo notices Regina and begins to romance her. It's not giving anything away to say that eventually Regina starts to fall for this courtly gentleman of means and finds herself conflicted, as she can't decide whether he's a murderer or not.

Fortunately, writer/director Marcos Bernstein (co-writer of Central Station, which starred Montenegro) mostly forgoes the pseudo-thriller part of this dynamic, in favor of concentrating on Regina's slow thaw from isolated spy to somebody actually engaged in the world. Having Montenegro in the starring role makes this all much more involving than it has any right to be, with her mix of chilly, intense cynicism and utter self-sufficiency. The Other Side of the Street is a quiet sort of film, full of individuals utterly alone yet surrounded by crowds, shot through with a melancholy that feels intensely French, sans bourgeois ennui. But it's a quietude that becomes hypnotic after a time and leaves you caring ultimately not a whit about Camargo and did he/didn't he kill his wife, as it becomes literally about whether Regina will find a reason to bother continuing to live.

A richly rewarding film about a nosy old lady... imagine that.

Aka O Outro Lado da Rua.



The Other Side of the Street

Facts and Figures

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 31st May 2006

Distributed by: Strand Releasing

Production compaines: Neanderthal MB Cinema, Passaro Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Fresh: 27 Rotten: 9

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: , Kátia Machado,

Starring: as Regina, as Camargo, as Patolina, Luiz Carlos Persy as Alcides, Milene Pizarro as Celia, Márcio Vito as Walmir

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