A lovely, moving film, if a bit repetitious early on, A Oitava Cor do Arco-Íris, from Brazil, centers on 11-year-old Joãozinho (Diego Borges, in one of cinema’s great child performances), who has been raised by his grandmother in a rural village. (Joãozinho’s mother has abandoned him and is likely working in the city as a prostitute.) Grandma Didinha, impoverished and ill, can’t afford medicine to relieve her pain. Joãozinho hopes to raise the necessary money by selling Mocinha, Grandma’s goat. Amauri Tangará’s film finds the hopeful, perseverant boy eventually making his way to Cuiabá, the nearest city, in order to make the sale. At a public market he recoils at the idea that Mocinha should become dinner meat, and later that day delinquent boys steal Mocinha; but the two are reunited. Meanwhile, bedridden Didinha herself is roused and attempts to find her missing grandson.
The film opens with a brusque rush of reality: Joãozinho is discovered and tossed out of the back of the truck, along with his goat, by a villager as he attempts to steal a ride. This is followed by what appears to be a dream-shot: in slow motion, Joãozinho, accompanied by Mocinha, walking down a street, eyeing uneasily the crowd of people gathering behind him. At the end of his unsuccessful day’s journey, the film bends around to the beginning, only Joãozinho dreams that the truck driver treats him with kindness before the reality of the driver’s meanness kicks in, and we realize that the shot on the street occurs as Joãozinho walks home, that the villagers behind him are not following him but heading to Grandma’s hut, with tears and flowers.
Earlier, playing with Mocinha, the boy had dreamt of flying; a merciful Tangará now leads us to a happy ending but for the serious poverty that there’s no getting around.
A man had agreed to buy the goat if Joãozinho could guess the number of colors in the rainbow. “Eight.” “No,” the man laughed, “seven.” Joãozinho: “My grandmother told me there are eight but some people can’t see the eighth color.”
The eighth color of the rainbow, perhaps, is God’s love.
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