Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (known affectionately for decades as simply "Lula" and evidently the single most popular politician in that country's history), a warts-and-all bio-pic is probably not in the cards. So, from the outset, when a drop-dead gorgeous kid plays the very young Lula and even more beautiful one does the honors as an adolescent, straight through to the end-credits, during which we see photos of Lula posing with practically every great (and not so) world leader, it is clear that the movie-makers have primed us to go "wow," "Wow!" and "WOW!" once more.
LULA, SON OF BRAZIL makes its Lula look, the film, directed by Fábio Barreto (shown at left), and written by Daniel Tendler, Fernando Bonassi and Denise Paraná, seems even more interested in serving up mommy hagiography. And when the mommy is as fascinating a character as Lula's mother evidently was, and when she is played by as riveting an actress as the award-winning Glória Pires (below, right), we can only be grateful for the result. If the movie were as consistently powerful and commanding as are its initial scenes, it would be one for the books. As it is, Lula SOB (whoops: I was abbreviating for the sake of space, but I think perhaps not, in this case...) proves a reasonably creditable and certainly enjoyable biopic about a fellow of whom -- until I read Nicholas Lemann's recent article (about Dilma Roussef, the woman who took Lula's place as Brazilian President) in The New Yorker -- I had known very little.
DZI Croquettes, and it cannot have been easy working with, around, and under the thumb of the military dictatorship of that time. But Lula managed it, seemingly as much by constantly proclaiming that he and his workers were no Communists as by his political skills (actually, this "We're not Communists!" stance was one of his political skills).
New Yorker Films, with a running time of 128 minutes, opens this Friday, January 13, in New York City at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema and the Quad Cinema. In the Los Angeles area, look for Lula to open on January 27 at Laemmle's Music Hall 3 and Playhouse 7. (I would assume the film will soon be playing elsewhere around the country, but I could not find any information about this on the company web site.)