Movie #175 Pixote
(1981, Brazil, d. Hector Babenco)
Pixote is a movie with some merit, especially when you consider it in the context of Italian neo-realist filmmaking, but the hardest part is getting over the images that are actually going on the screen. In the spirit of Rossellini or Zavattini or any great neo-realist filmmaker, it depicts “life” (or as little constructed perceptions of “life”) with an unflinching eye. It tries to stay away from emotion and tonal dictations and simply guide the camera to the action, step back, and observe. But what the film is displaying is simply what made me dislike it. I’m not saying it’s a bad film; I just hated it. To me (and nearly everyone in the audience I watched it with), it was just one bad thing to another. With absolutely no redemption in this film at any point to the tragic character of Pixote (played by a non-actor child Fernando Ramos da Silva, who was killed at the age of 14 by Brazilian police), it’s hard to find any watchable quality of the movie. Now granted, stuff like this happens and don’t think I’m criticizing any of that: the fact that real people have gone through the atrocities depicted here is absolutely unimaginable, but from a story perspective, there is nothing worth watching here. At times, I was convincing myself to pay attention just out of respect for the real people – as a social deed of sorts. Nominated for a Golden Globe in the Best Foreign Language Film category, Pixote is a sad, sad film that comes with no redeemable quality. Granted, there are interesting sequences here and there – one where Pixote and his friends begin pickpocketing on the streets is a memorable one as well as the final shot of Pixote walking into the distance on the rail tracks. It’s interesting to see where City of God draws a lot of inspiration but the significant difference between the two films is that the gangsters in City know what they’re doing; here they must learn. And though I hate to bash on a movie because it’s old, consider City a must more affecting and effective account of children on the streets of Rio.