Directed by Walter Salles, Starring Rodrigo Santoro, Jose Dumont, Ravi Ramos Lacerda, Flavia Marco Antonio and Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos.
Based on a book set in contemporary Albania, director Walter Salles ('Central Station') has transposed the setting of Ismail Kadare’s ‘Broken April’ to Brazil in the early 1900s. It is a Shakespearean fable of rustic vendetta and revenge between two warring peasant families who work the land. Tohno (Rodrigo Santoro) and Pacu (Ravi Ramos Lacerda) are the middle and youngest sons of a poor sugar-refining family. Having battled with a neighbouring family for decades over land, Tohno is instructed by his father to avenge the death of his eldest brother in a tit-for-tat battle of retaliation.
Like much of Salles’ work, the narrative is relayed through the eyes of a young innocent, in this case, Pacu. As the entire family assist in the gruelling daily work of sugar refining, he struggles to hold on to his childhood and recedes into the world of the imagination. After their older brother is slain, Pacu and Tohno are united in their desire to break the cycle of ritual killing that is tearing their family apart. Tohno is divided between familial duty and a desire to live beyond his young years. A catalyst – in the form of a travelling circus - appears on the horizon where he and Pacu befriend Clara (Flavia Marcop Antonio). She gives Pacu a book that enchants him, and Tohno her heart. The film sweeps to a climactic conclusion where Tohno must choose between living a long life in love or dying prematurely in honour.
Walter Carvalho’s photography is a mesmerising mirror of South American beauty. The arid badlands of Brazil are seemingly boundless, but for Tohno and Pacu, they represent a prison of honour, duty and tradition. Metaphor is ever present, most obviously with the mechanical drudge of the sugar crusher, moving in endless circles that go nowhere. Clara and her trapeze/rope act represent the freedom (and sexuality) Tohno longs for. Salles’ sun-drenched tale combines bleakness with heart-warming insights into love, honour and destiny on a visually stunning canvas.