Monday, 29 September 2008

Hope's Suffering - writing in lieu of a review of 'Linha de Passe'

The film sets it out neatly at first. Loneliness and belonging. On the side of the latter, the crowd at the Corinths football game, and the preacher's congregation. On the former, the boy riding the buses alone, the woman we saw at the game in her bedroom alone as her waters begin to break. The player in the try-outs, whose team-mates are his rivals.

It's not so simple. The church-goer has bought his place in the world at the price of the respect of his peers - nothing but scorn left for the 'bible-boy.' The boy on the buses has his family to go to - but he knows his real father is a bus driver and so he rides in the hope of catching a glimpse. And a motorcycle gregariousness sends him down a road that will end with complete alienation from his fellow human beings.

All of these characters are sited in one family - sons around a single mother in a São Paulo household too small to fit them. Their hopes play off one another and of course come into conflict, inevitably creating tensions in the plot - but they are not how the film moves. Fulfilment or otherwise depends on decisions made in each individual's sphere.

Most moving for me were the moments in which hope's embers faded. A lame legged woman is baptised in the river. The preacher lets her go and commands her to walk - but each time he has to catch her as she falls down into the water. Once he gives up the look of relief is palpable. It's the ending of hope's cruelty, the release of hope's suffering - that which happens when a hope is fulfilled, or put beyond reach.

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