Opera do Malandro

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Take The Threepenny Opera, relocate in Rio, replace Kurt Weill's score with Brazilian sambas, and embellish with dancing and dreamy decor... In this loose adaptation of Brecht's classic, Guerra tells a tale of fairytale simplicity: the year is 1941, and the Brazilian government is backing the Nazis against the wishes of the US-obsessed population at large, one of whom - white-suited pimp Max - is developing his own capitalistic practices. Between pool-room rumbles, black-market deals, and living off the earnings of faithful Margot (ex-mistress of corrupt cop Tiger), Max devises a plan to seduce the apparently innocent daughter of his arch-enemy, nightclub-owner Otto StrĂ¼dell, which has unexpected consequences. The pleasure to be had from Guerra's elegant, robustly physical movie derives not only from Chico Buarque's lilting, swinging score and the colourfully extravagant dancing, but from Guerra's deceptively playful tone, bewitchingly pitched somewhere between realism and filmic fantasy. Hollywood ancestors - notably Hawks' Scarface and Gene Kelly musicals - are refracted through a double prism of Brechtian modernism and traditional Brazilian culture. Political satire and lusty melodrama are imaginatively merged, with Guerra's camera deftly juggling various tropes of cinematic illusion. All in all, an astonishing offering of wit, verve and imagination.

Release details

Duration: 108 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Ruy Guerra
Screenwriter: Chico Buarque, Orlando Senna, Ruy Guerra
Cast: Edson Celulari
Claudia Ohana
Elba Ramalho
Ney Latorraca
Fabio Sabag
JC Violla
Wilson Grey
Maria Silvia
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