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Review by Tom Avila
Rating: (3 out of 5)
Wednesday, 10/19/2011, 9:00 PM
Feature presentation, $12 at West End Cinema
Danish, Portuguese and English with English subtitles
WATCHING ROSA MORENA is a bit like watching a low-budget teen slasher flick. With alarming frequency you will find yourself staring at the screen, shouting in disbelief, ”What are you doing? Don’t do that! Are you kidding me? Stop!”
No, it’s not that the film’s lead character Thomas (Anders W. Berthelsen) keeps wandering off to investigate strange sounds in the basement while dressed only in a bra and panties. Instead, the single gay man has traveled from his native country of Denmark to visit his friend Jakob in Sao Paulo. It’s a visit – we learn after some poorly paced plotting and completely extraneous nightclub scenes – that involves some delicate business. Thomas has come to Brazil in order to adopt a child, something he is legally prohibited from doing in Denmark.
The opportunities presented to him in Brazil are not all that much better. Yes, the chances of Thomas being able to adopt a child are improved, but that is largely due to the fact that the staggering poverty and desperate situations of some young mothers has given rise to a market where babies are sold for the sake of survival. Which is how Thomas meets Maria (Bárbara Garcia) and finds himself struggling to understand a world in which he has no business being involved.
Both Berthelsen and Garcia deliver fantastic performances in Rosa Morena, playing off one another with a quick and practiced sense of give and take. Director Carlos Augusto de Oliveira makes some choices that will irritate, if not outright infuriate, audiences, but takes the care to give his more boldfaced maneuvers some sensible grounding. It doesn’t always work as cleanly as it should, and those choices do leave the movie feeling overly long and stretched thin at points, but it shows a degree of respect for Rosa Morena‘s viewers that is easy to appreciate.
So, while Rosa Morena falls short of its grander goals and vision, it earns suitable regard for doing very well with the small and personal.