Director – Alexandre Moratto – 2018 – Brazil – Cert. 15 – 71m
It’s morning in coastal São Paulo. Sócrates (Christian Malheiros), 15, goes in to see his mum in her room. But she doesn’t wake up. He is consumed with grief. The lady social worker talks to him, but his emotions are so consuming he can’t hear her. She tells him, if a guardian can’t be found, he’ll be put in a home.
He doesn’t want that, but if he’s to stay where he is, the rent has to be paid. He works his mum’s literally crappy job cleaning lavatories with a co-worker, but the boss won’t give Sócrates his mum’s money, she must collect it in person. He prints out fliers of his resume, negotiating a three payments of 50 cents deal with the shop manageress, and hands them out. He gets a lead on a shop that’s hiring and lies about his age on the form, an untruth that will disqualify him for the job when they fact-check.
A thick, red comb in the bathroom holds some of his mother’s hair.
A temp job carrying and sorting piping leads to a run in with Maicon (Tales Ordakji) and a dressing down of the pair of them by the boss. Outside of the job, Maicon calls him with another job, but when Sócrates gets to Maicon’s, the job has evaporated. There’s an attraction and he kisses Maicon fiercely.
He’s told to collect his mum’s ashes, but on arrival the lady at the front desk won’t give them to him and he ends up being ejected by security. He climbs a long set of street stairs which seem to speak of the struggle of his situation.
There’s a possibility that his father, who he and his mother left a long time ago, could act as guardian. But Sócrates harbours terrible memories of his father. So that’s a non-starter.
This is made under UNESCO-funded initiative the Querô Institute which attempts to integrate those from the poorest backgrounds into society through film making. The cast, particularly the two leads, are amazing – you can feel that they know the world of their story in their bones and bodies, they’ve lived it or have been very close to people who have lived it. One way or another, it’s hard to believe they haven’t done extensive research.
There’s truth in these performances. Malheiros in particular inhabits his character and his character’s plight with an all-too rare sense of authenticity. The film is profoundly moving at a very deep level and tackles fundamental, existentialist issues. At just over 70 minutes, it’s short for a feature but packs one hell of a wallop.