The Patriot

Policarpo Quaresma, the unlikely hero of this 1998 Brazilian film, is an ardent, eccentric turn-of-the-century nationalist who rails against the country's bureaucrats and upper crust, experiments with planting crops in the jungle, and fights for his republican beliefs to the bitter end. He embodies the quixotic, frontier spirit enduring in a cynical, changing world—sort of a Brazilian Colonel Blimp—and his exploits are meant to expose not only the hypocrisy and corruption of the postcolonial elite but also of contemporary Brazil. Yet director Paulo Thiago, adapting a popular novel, treats his satirical targets with kid gloves; he settles for a lighthearted, straightforward chronicle without a trace of irony. The acting is broad, though the ballads that propel the narrative are sung with feeling.

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