Four Days in September

Brazil's entry for the 1997 Academy Awards, this is the kind of controlled, authentic political drama nobody makes anymore. Bruno Barreto (Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands) returns to an incident in Brazil's history that continues to resonate: in 1969 a Marxist guerrilla cadre kidnapped the American ambassador to Brazil, Charles Burke Elbrick, and demanded the release of 15 political prisoners. Barreto adheres closely to the autobiography of Fernando Gabeira, one of the kidnappers, and the scenes of the young revolutionaries are credible and claustrophobic; particularly effective is Fernanda Torres as Comrade Maria, the cadre's most strident ideologue. Alan Arkin turns in a surprisingly winning performance as the Republican ambassador, who proves a model prisoner.

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