Copacabana Fools Me (1968) Poster

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8/10
Brazilian trend-setting, sexy comedy-drama features gorgeous Odete Lara and fascinating Copacabana
debblyst6 March 2005
Irresistibly charming, witty, sardonic, sexy, socially aware dramatic comedy about young streetwise middle-class Marquinhos (debut of 22-year-old blond hunk Carlo Mossy, perfectly cast, who was to become the "king" of "pornochanchadas" or Brazilian sex comedies of the 70s) who incarnates the Copacabana small-time dolce far niente: jobless, still living at home with his parents, spending his time watching junk TV, playing beach soccer by day and partying by night. He meets and has an affair with sexy, world-weary Irene (played by knockout 40-year-old blonde femme fatale Odete Lara, with her amazing figure and catlike features, in what is probably her best role/ performance ever) –- and along the way they both learn many things about the bittersweetness of love and life.

It's a strikingly mature debut for director Antonio Carlos da Fontoura at 29 (it still is his best film to date), featuring brilliant, memorable dialog, full-blooded characters, good supporting performances, especially by veteran Paulo Gracindo as cynical, scheming Alfeu, and cool Cláudio Marzo as Marquinho's brother (the exception is, of course, the always atrocious Joel Barcellos). It's also technically impressive, with vivid, sensuous b&w cinematography by then beginner Affonso Beato (who was later to work for Glauber Rocha, Jim McBride and Almodóvar), wonderful use of Copacabana beach and streets, and Caetano Veloso's hit song "Baby", sung by Gal Costa.

Undoubtedly influenced by Domingos de Oliveira's hit philosophical comedy "Todas as Mulheres do Mundo" (1966) in style and inspiration -- both films are love letters from the directors to their female stars -- , "Copacabana Me Engana" was big with critics and audiences. It set the trend for the hundreds of Brazilian sex comedies of the 1970s, though none had its originality, wit, depth of observation and self-revelation. It's a coming-of-age film, made with temperament, sensuality, passion – and it shows.
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