Thursday, August 15, 2019

Movie with Abe: Socrates

Directed by Alexandre Moratto
Released August 16, 2019

There are certain general narratives found in film, and the strength of each individual iteration depends on the approach taken and the authenticity conveyed by both the script and the performers. Those living on the margins of society are frequently portrayed in independent film, especially youth forced to become mature as a result of their circumstances. Utilizing first-time actors who have actually lived experiences similar to those depicted on screen is the surest method of ensuring a genuine representation, tapping into personal anguish and giving a voice to those who aren’t often given a fair shot.

Socrates (Christian Malheiros) is a fifteen-year-old boy living in Sao Paulo. When his mother dies, he does his best to maintain his independence, showing up for her cleaning shifts and trying to find work wherever he can to come up with the rent money that he desperately needs. Told that he may be put into the foster care system, Socrates lies about his age and hides from the abusive father he fears. A connection with another young man, Maicon (Tales Ordakji), offers him some hope for a more lasting personal relationship that isn’t just about surviving to the next moment.

The genesis of this film is notable and speaks to the success it achieves in utilizing real people to tremendous effect. Twenty-nine-year-old Brazilian-American Alexandre Moratto makes an astounding debut behind the camera, honing in on the loneliness and emotion that Socrates expresses as he tries his hardest to stay in charge of his life when everything seems to be working against him. Using at-risk teenagers from low-income communities is a true boon to this film, which marks the first feature from the Querô Institute in Brazil and was also funded by UNICEF.

There is not much about this film that will surprise audiences with regard to its plot, and the film runs just seventy minutes. Yet there’s an urgency and vitality to this story due in large part to Mahleiros’ raw, human performance. He conveys the fact that he needs whatever random job he is hopelessly inquiring about with his eyes and with a dedication that transmits a knowledge that what he does matters since he risks losing control and independence. This film, which won the Someone to Watch Award at the Film Independent Spirit Awards for Moratto and earned a nomination for Malheiros’ turn, is well worth watching, demonstrating that a fresh turn at this narrative brings with it wondrous benefits.


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