Netto Loses His Soul

A Brazilian costume epic (2001) about General Antonio de Souza Netto, a republican and abolitionist who fought in two protracted revolutions during the mid-19th century. Recovering from a battle wound during the Paraguayan War, Netto recounts six episodes from his life; they explore the political issues of the time—slavery, antimonarchism, border disputes—but the central figure, woodenly played by Werner Schunemann, never emerges as a personality. In fact, the only segments of dramatic interest are those without him, like one in which black ex-soldiers express their disillusionment with the cause. Brazil may have gone on to victory, but the film fights a losing battle with the forces of tedium. Tabajara Ruas adapted his own historical novel, assisted by four other writers, and directed with Beto Souza. In Portuguese and Spanish with subtitles. 102 min.

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