An enormous box-office hit in its native Brazil, Breno Silveira’s decades-spanning rags-to-riches movie tells the story of a poor family whose improbable musical dreams come true. Francisco (ntonio), a laborer in his father-in-law’s fields, aspires to provide a better life for his brood and, pointedly trading in his gun for a guitar and an accordion, grooms two of his boys for a career as a musical duo.
Enjoyably lightweight for the first hour or so, Two Sons of Francisco is then fissured by a catastrophic event that, oddly, is hardly mentioned for the rest of the movie, as if the filmmaker were afraid the human tragedy might disrupt the feel-good arc of the narrative (a concern made even stranger by the inevitable “based on a true story” declaration). Another reason for the lack of emotional resonance may be that we never learn much about the boys—as the film’s title indicates, Francisco remains a stronger presence than his relatively anonymous sons. Indeed, it’s not until the film’s hurried third act, when he recedes into the background, that we realize how much ntonio’s genial performance has obscured the movie’s obvious dramatic shortcomings. (Opens Thu; MoMA.) — Joshua Land