Thursday, February 21, 2008
The Year My Parents Went on Vacation (O Ano em Que Meus Pais Saíram de Férias)
This year Brazil's entry for Oscar nomination in the Foreign Language Film category is "The Year My Parents Went on Vacation (O Ano em Que Meus Pais Saíram de Férias)" (Brazil 2007, 103 min., opens Friday in Bay Area Theaters). It's a sweet film about a twelve-years-old boy who learns how to adapt to a new environment in order to survive.
Mauro was a 12-year old boy who loves soccer. The year his parents went "on vacation" was 1970, when Brazil was competing the World Cup and the leftist was fighting against Brazil's military dictatorship. Because Mauro's parents needed to go underground, or on vacation, he was dropped off to stay with his grandpa, who lived in a Jewish community. However, Mauro is not a Jew nor speaks Yiddish — he is a goy. Worse, he ended up having to live with his grandpa's grumpy old neighbor Shlomo, who was a clerk at a Jewish church.
Anxiously waiting for his parents' return, Mauro began to adapt to his new surroundings and became friends with Shlomo and Hana, a street smart girl living upstairs. Eventually, Mauro got used to this working class neighborhood Jewish community.
Even we have seen films with similar topics about developing a friendship between a young boy and an older adult, this film is still enjoyable to watch. The slow paced plot about Mauro's survival is satisfying and warm hearted, sometimes humorous. However, it's not as engaging as "Central Station (Central do Brasil)," nor as cute as Kolya.
Obviously the focus of the film is to set Mauro out to take up his challenge. Therefore, probably it is wasting time if raise questions like how could his parents drop him off in front of the apartment building then just took off. That would have required rewriting the script.If we ignore these flaws, the film will settle us into that joyful (senior) Jewish community, just like Mauro did, and have a memorable time. Good or not, it will be entirely up to you.