A musical portrait of Brasil in the 60s

Out of Tune (“Os Desafinados”), the latest feature of  Brazilian director Walter Lima Júnior, opened last Friday the Barbican’s ‘Cinema of Brazil – Music and Rhythm’ film festival . The 128 minutes long film shot on Super 16mm had a cast made of Brasilian TV and cinema stars, including Rodrigo Santoro (Love Actually), Selton Melo (Jean Charles, although being a half UK production, not yet released in the UK), Angelo Paes Leme, Claudia Abreu and  Alessandra Negrini.

Despite the great casting (with a surprising cinema debut of the musician Jair Oliveira), the very interesting plot lacks a script with a bit more consistency. The feature tells the story of the fictitious Bossa Nova group ‘Os Desafinados’ – title which got its inspiration ifrom Tom Jobim’s song ‘Desafinado’ – that decides to try to live the American Dream and starts at the same time as the world gets to know Bossa Nova, through the famous 1962 Carnegie Hall Concert.

There are enough beautiful images and great performances to please the audience, however, the few conflicts and some weak characters aren’t sufficient to hold together the many aspects of this narrative and the many great songs that take part in its successful soundtrack. For it, Lima had the help of Wagner Tiso, with who he’d worked with before in The Oyster and the Wind (1997), Chico Rei (1984), Inocência (1981) and A Lira do Delírio (1977).

“During the beginning of the 60s, Brasil was developing, there was this dream of being industrialised and this time had this very strong energy”, explains Lima, exemplifying it with the construction of the new capital, Brasília, and movements like Cinema Novo and Bossa Nova. However, as he reminds us, this was also the time when Brasil had to face a very restrict military dictatorship with a strong censorship hand. “This film wants to talk about this time, but without resentments or being didactic”.

Out of Tune truly doesn’t try to explain the period or to bring up all the injustices of its time. On the other hand, it focuses on the relationship between the group members and gives particular importance to the point of view of their best friend, Dico (Selton Melo): a filmmaker in the beginning of his career, that documented different stages of the group’s trajectory.

In summary, this is a film that is worth watching for its rich and vast musical reference as well as its great comical touch (emphasised by subtle and clever pieces of dialogue), but it is not the best example of Lima’s skills as a filmmaker and it can be very frustrating to those who expected a bit more from its ending.

By Zaira Brilhante

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Check out more details on the Cinema of Brazil film festival at the Barbican:
jungledrumsonline.com/articles/barbican-celebrates-brazils-music-on-film

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