We also learn about the Surf Club -- run by the surfing mentor, that offers pro bono help for all the kids who come from the Favelas above -- and of the social/economic/criminal life that surrounds these kids. Gangs such as the Red Command, the Blue Command (we even hear reference made to a "Third" Command) vie for the hearts, minds and bodies of these kids, and as is made very clear in the movie, once you join a gang, the only way out is death. The police? Well, if you're acquainted with Brazilian crime films such as the prize-winning Elite Squad (click and scroll down), you may perceive the police as at least as problematic as those drug gangs.
To Mitchell's great credit, it is the larger, more encompassing life of these children that interests the filmmaker most. So we see and hear bits and pieces of their lives -- from the inevitable battle of the sexes ("Women are like gum," notes once of the boys, sporting a clear, untested bravado. "Once they stick to you, it's hard to get them off.") to a discussion of what they want out of life, including helicopters, that is utterly silly, tender, endearing and so very childlike. How vulnerable are children, the movie shows us once again, and how difficult it is to "grow up." Toss in the Favelas -- and Brazil's near-empty social contract -- and the problems these kids experience grow exponentially.
Rio Breaks, going straight to DVD via Factory 25, makes its debut this week You can buy it here or save it to your Netflix queue. (The nation's largest movie rental service is expected to have a supply available soon...)