The Year My Parents Went on Vacation Movie Review

If you were a ten-year-old boy in 1970 Brazil, you had one thing on your mind: The Brazilian football soccer team playing in the World Cup. But for young Mauro (Michel Joelsas), his excitement for Pelé is overshadowed by his parents' departure.

In that historic year, the Brazilian population wasn't just united by one the greatest soccer teams ever assembled. It was also dealing with increasingly aggressive activity by a dictatorship eager to arrest any non-conformists. So while Mauro collects national team trading cards and plays out matches with his tabletop soccer game, his parents rush him from their home, explaining the couple needs to "go on vacation."

In telling the story from Mauro's eyes, director Cao Hamburger (and five writers) doesn't offer names, faces, or specifics. Mauro's parents just drop him off at his grandfather's apartment and head for the hills. Only one problem: Unknown to the family, Grandpa died earlier in the day. Our young hero is forced to make his own way and contend with Shlomo (Germano Haiut), the grandfather's crusty old neighbor in a predominantly Jewish building.

Those early sequences are reminiscent of Steven Soderbergh's Depression-era King of the Hill (1993), about a boy getting by in a hotel without his family. Joelsas, nominated for a Young Artist Award, rummages through loneliness, confusion, and even independence as he takes over Grandpa's apartment. All the while, he's afraid to roam too far from the telephone in case his parents call, one of the film's sadder touches. And when Mauro does try calling his old apartment, Hamburger shows us the warmth and safety (and danger) of the empty living room -- and even we feel a little homesick.

Mauro and Shlomo become buddies, of course, but Mauro learns much more from the diverse world that surrounds him. He teams up with a few kids (led by adorable São Paolo-born newcomer Daniela Piepszyk) to play soccer, gawk at women in a dressing room, and meet the people in the community. Italians, Jews, and Blacks make up Mauro's new landscape, filling in the slots of his life like those soccer cards filling up his collection book.

Hamburger's coming-of-age story breathes within this larger mosaic of race, ethnicity, religion, and politics, and many of the film's memorable scenes have those issues at center. In the middle of a particularly gritty soccer match between Italian and Jewish kids, Mauro believes he sees his parents' car. Spellbound, he races from the field mid-action as an opponent mutters, "Just like a typical Jew." So while he chases the car, a tyke-filled ethnic rumble erupts. It's a skillful combination of humor, sadness, and tension.

Thankfully, that earlier dressing room/peeping tom sequence is about as stereotypical as the film gets. There's no first kiss, no moments of soon-to-be-a-teenager clarity. With very little fanfare, Mauro's life eventually moves on as quickly as it first changed when his parents' "vacation" began. We've witnessed just one intense summer in a life that will probably be much longer, and filled with more pivotal moments and glory years for Brazilian football.

Aka O Ano em Que Meus Pais Saíram de Férias.

At least they could have brought them some lousy t-shirts.

Cast & Crew

Director : Cao Hamburger

Producer : Caio Gullane, Fabiano Gullane, Cao Hamburger,

Starring : Michel Joelsas, Germano Haiut, Simone Spoladore, Eduardo Moreira, Daniela Piepszyk, Paulo Autran


Comments

The Year My Parents Went on Vacation Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: PG, 2008

Editors Recommendations

MS MR Admit They're 'Natural Performers' As They Enjoy 2014's Festival Season

Some bands are worth getting excited about and, with the festival season well under way...

MS MR Admit They're 'Natural Performers' As They Enjoy 2014's Festival Season

Miley Cyrus Forced To Cancel More 'Bangerz' Tour Dates As She Remains Hospitalized

Miley Cyrus is still receiving hospital treatment for "severe allergic reaction...

Miley Cyrus Forced To Cancel More 'Bangerz' Tour Dates As She Remains Hospitalized

Peaches Geldof Will Be Laid To Rest In Same Church As Late Mother

Peaches Geldof, who suddenly died at the beginning of this month (April 7th)...

Peaches Geldof Will Be Laid To Rest In Same Church As Late Mother

Gwen Stefani To Step In For Christina Aguilera On "The Voice"

We never would have pegged Gwen Stefani as the reality talent panelist type...

Gwen Stefani To Step In For Christina Aguilera On

Bryan Singer Announces Alibi, But It Won't Help "X-Men" Marketing

As X-Men director Bryan Singer is gearing up for his defense case, which he will have...

Bryan Singer Announces Alibi, But It Won't Help

Prince To Release New Album With New Warner Bros. Records Partnership

Prince and Warner Bros, Records seem to have put their differences aside...

Prince To Release New Album With New Warner Bros. Records Partnership

Lindsay Lohan's Ex List Was Actually A Step In Her Recovery

Lindsay Lohan really did write down her now infamous list of lovers, which has been...

Lindsay Lohan's Ex List Was Actually A Step In Her Recovery

'Mrs. Doubtfire' Cast Reluctant For Sequel: A Cash Cow For Robin Williams?

The news that a Mrs. Doubtfire sequel is definitely in the works 21 years after the 1993...

'Mrs. Doubtfire' Cast Reluctant For Sequel: A Cash Cow For Robin Williams?

Music Fans Crown Ozzy Osbourne And Lady Gaga "Hardest Artists To Understand"

Music fans have named Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus and Rihanna in their top ten hardest...

Music Fans Crown Ozzy Osbourne And Lady Gaga


More recommendations