The Greatest Love of All | Chicago Reader

The Greatest Love of All

A relentlessly bleak tone helps dampen the cornier aspects of this 2006 Brazilian drama, a reunion of sorts for the director (Carlos Diegues) and star (Jose Wilker) of Bye Bye Brazil (1979). Wilker plays an astrophysicist at a Boston university who returns to his native Rio de Janeiro to accept an award and, terminally ill, resolves to track down his birth mother before he dies. His quest leads him into an awful slum whose nobly impoverished inhabitants include a cute kid dealing drugs, an elderly fortune-teller, and a ripe, well-scrubbed young beauty pulsing with the life force. By the final shot, when the scientist and a ghostly Madonna figure confer against a backdrop of garbage, the movie's polished symbolism has begun to seem more ornamental than organic. In Portuguese with subtitles. 107 min.

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