THE MIDDLE OF THE WORLD (Vicente Amorim, 2003)

I cannot recommend the 2003 Brazilian film O Caminho das Nuvens (The Middle of the World), by Vicente Amorim—a road picture based on a family’s actual experience, in which a couple and their five children make a trek by bicycle over the course of six months in search of a job so that the husband/father can support his family. The scenery is pretty; the family stuff, soap operatic; and there is no analysis whatsoever of the causes of Brazilian poverty and the scarcity of jobs for the poor and uneducated. The film is superficial.
     One character, though, moved me: the mildly mentally challenged one, Rodney. The parting between his older brother and the rest of the family, which falls especially hard on Rodney, is briefly shattering.
     This disappointing road film joins such other failures in the genre as Rain Man (1988) and Central Station (Central do Brasil, 1998), the latter, by Walter Salles, also from Brazil—although both these films are perfectly okay “on the road,” collapsing into mediocrity before and after their trip.
     Outrageously, the “extras” on the DVD, which even include another film by another filmmaker, do not include an update on the actual family’s progress. Unconscionable!

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