Central Station (1998) / Drama
aka Central do Brasil

MPAA Rated: R for language
Running Time: 113 min.

Cast: Fernanda Montenegro, Vinicius de Oliveira, Marilia Pera, Soia Lira
Director: Walter Salles
Screenplay: Marcos Bernstein, Joao Emanuel Carmeiro
Review published March 1, 1999

Here's a real hidden gem for people looking for something different but wonderful. This tells the tale of Dora (Montenegro, The Other Side of the Street), an aging and lonely retired schoolteacher who makes ends meet by writing letters for illiterate Brazilians in a train station. One day a woman and her young boy want to write the boy's estranged father, whom the boy wants to meet in the worst way. A fateful accident kills the boy's mother, leaving the boy a virtual orphan since he doesn't know his father. Dora takes the boy in but sells custody to a local businessman from the train station, but her conscience gets the better of her when she discovers the man is in a black market operation that kills youngsters for their organs. She rescues the boy and together they go in search of the boy's long lost father.

Truly a delightful film and despite the amateurish acting in supporting roles, very moving as well. Montenegro is outstanding as Dora, and de Oliveira (Linha de Passe) as the young boy is charming even if he's a bit pushy for a kid. The plotting is a bit predictable, but the screenwriting has a depth that makes everything fresh and profound. Funny yet tragic, sad yet uplifting, and one of the best films of 1998.

Qwipster's rating:

1999 Vince Leo