Central Station: movie on homeless child in Brazil FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sat, 21 Nov 1998 20:01:33 -0400

=46WD  New York Daily News - November 20, 1998

'Central Station's' Grand
Poignant tale of a Brazilian
orphan's plight is the Rio thing

CENTRAL STATION. Vinicius de Oliveira, Fernanda Montenegro. Directed by
Walter Salles. At Lincoln Plaza, Angelika. In Portuguese with English
subtitles. Running time: 115 mins. Rated R: Language, brief violence.

Normally the sound in movie theaters is of popcorn crunching. But the sound
at theaters where "Central Station" is showing is of hearts breaking over
the plight of an adorable homeless boy in Rio de Janeiro.

The only person who can possibly save the boy by traveling with him to the
father he has never met is Dora, the Brazilian equivalent of the Wicked
Witch of the West, and she is not inclined to help. She'd rather trade him
in for a color TV - which she does, briefly.

 Josu=E9 (Vinicius de Oliveira) has just seen his mother run down by a bus
outside bustling Central Station. There are a few unsavory fates awaiting
little boys who hang out after hours in train stations, but Josu=E9, naive
and unschooled though he may be, is no dummy. He gloms on to Dora (Fernanda
Montenegro), a nasty old woman who earns a living at a table in the station
by writing letters on behalf of illiterates.

Dora writes them, but to show just how mercenary she is, she takes the
letters home, reads them, mocks them, and never mails them - thus saving on
postage and dashing people's expectations all over the land.

You can imagine, then, how strange the journey is when they go on it after
all - an irrepressible child and a crusty old woman on a road trip through
all kinds of unfamiliar emotional terrain.

This moving story is made all the more poignant by the fact that the film
makers found their naturally charismatic 9-year-old star at the Rio
airport, where the kid was a shoeshine boy who had never been to school,
much less acting class. I won't give away the movie's ending, but in real
life the money for playing Josu=E9 has gone to giving the boy an education, =
happy ending indeed.

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **

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