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In Porto Alegre, the unemployed Ciro has a dull life in a simple apartment with a nameless stray dog that he had found on the streets. Ciro is supported by his parents and works every now and then in translation of Russian. When he meets the aspiring actress Marcela, who dreams on traveling to other places, they immediately fall in love for each other. However, Marcela has a lymphoma and travels for a treatment, and alone Marcelo becomes depressed and returns to his parents home.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
"Cão Sem Dono" ("Stray Dog") is the nearest thing resembling a blog that you may see in a movie format. We follow "stray dog" Ciro (scrawny, scruffy Júlio Andrade), a lonely, depressed, boozing, struggling translator whose nihilistic dull life is turned upside down when he meets lively struggling model Marcela (gummy-smiling Tainá Müller), until she's diagnosed with a disease that forces Ciro to realize the urgency of his feelings for her, and also to face his relationship with his parents and his own nameless stray dog (much healthier-looking than Ciro himself).
Most of the film takes place in a bare, shabby flat where the couple make love and avoid talking about their feelings or the past or the future. But "Stray Dog" is a far cry from "Last Tango in Paris": it's a portrait of a Brazilian middle-class 20-something urban generation that failed to make the transition from adolescence into adulthood, marked by emotional, political and philosophical numbness and lack of goals. It's based on the novella by 27 year-old Daniel Galera, who started his career as --you guessed it -- a blog writer. The movie feels just like reading most blogs you find on the net: confessional, self-centered and disillusioned.
"Stray Dog" is just 82 minutes long, though it feels like 120. Not just for the repetitiveness of the scenes and situations, but also because we're stuck with a main character so numb and depressed we wish he were into amphetamines instead of booze and pot. The film becomes a little more lively every time anyone else is on the screen (especially the dog), though most of the actors are asked to perform in a "real-life" key (overlapping banal dialog, mumbling, poor improvising) that makes them little interesting. Fortunately, there are two or three good quotes in prose and poetry (by Sergio Faraco, among others) to momentarily save our ears from the dominant triviality. Most annoying is the film's denouement: a happy ending here was SO uncalled for and SO dissonant with the film's overall mood that director Beto Brant's solution is to do it quickly -- it's the most contrived, unsatisfying, unconvincing happy (or any) ending in recent times and a particular letdown considering Brant's former films (his previous films had quite stunning finales).
Brant's choices continue to astound many of his followers: his first three films ("O Matador", "Ação entre Amigos", "O Invasor") showed he possessed exciting wit, technique and rhythm, with a gift for taut story-telling that's very rare in Brazilian film-making. With his later "Crime Delicado", he chose to experiment with literary and theatrical textures, and though the film never really caught fire, his visual solutions still glowed. With "Cão sem Dono", Brant's talents seem completely wasted: he dives into a petty-poetry, amateur-looking, visually and aurally boring, "love's-the-cure" film that we might expect from an inexperienced 20-something filmmaker (Brant is 42).
Anyway, this film has won a number of awards, and may attract romantic, poetic-natured adolescents and young adults. Tainá Müller's beauty is a definite plus here (though her awful singing is a major turn-off) counterbalancing the fact that we have to endure the sight of Júlio Andrade's scrawny, corpse-like body wearing nothing but drab briefs through most of the film.
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