Published Sep 12, 2008After a foray into American-Asian horror remake territory with 2005s Dark Water, Walter Salles returns to Brazil with Linha de Passe, a competent, if entirely manufactured and overly contrived, ensemble drama about the eternal quest for purpose and love, with absent paternal figures, both figuratively and literally, for its fulcrum.
Cleuza (Sandra Corveloni), a single mother with a tendency to wind up pregnant and alone every few years, attempts to raise four sons on her own with a limited income as a maid and minimal time to dedicate to their individual upbringing. Without father figures or a great deal of future prospects, each boy attempts to find purpose in a world that seems to care very little about them.
Through religion, soccer, bus-driving and common thievery, each young man resorts to deception and delusion in order to make their constructed journey fit into individual ideologies, which are all essentially defined by absent father figures.
While the use of the Sao Paulo backdrop melds well with the often organic feeling derived from using non-actors in a roughly improvised neo-realist forum, the artificiality and seeming insincerity in the eventual outcomes and trajectories leave an overall feeling of mediocrity and missed (or forced) opportunities. Given that Salles filmography includes The Motorcycle Diaries and Central Station, each showing command of the form, more is expected of him than this blasé hokum.
Rather than taking time to reflect on the nature and emotional impact of each journey, Linha de Passe finds itself pre-occupied with frequent crosscutting and clumsy machinations to really drive home the "mirrored lives theme that bogs down the narrative.
It ultimately winds up detracting from the potential connectivity, leaving a noble and calculated effort feeling like little more than a passing and forgettable fancy. (Pathe)