Blue Eyes (Olhos Azuis)| 31 August, 2010
Not an easy watch, but in the best way; a pretty heavy, dark and brooding independent film with a twist that refreshingly speaks up and makes a poetically ironic and bold comment on the American immigration system and the desire for “American culture” from developing countries. In this case, South America and particularly Brazil (one of the fastest growing economies in the world.) Either way – there are no laughs here but it does force one to face some uncomfortable questions.
We follow the lead character, the blue eyed alcoholic Marshall, through juxtaposed scenes in the past and present. Marshall is retiring as head immigration officer at a US airport and sees his last day on the job as an excuse to drink seemingly more than normal. It’s not long before we become painfully aware that he’s a pot that’s about to boil over. We’re hooked on the bait for the nearly two hours of this film to see how the past and present scenes running parallel together, one in the US and the other in Brazil, are all hinged around a little girl in Rio and why, when he shows such signs of twisted hatred to the nation (and any other that isn’t the States for that matter), he is so determined to find her – indeed, with the help of a Brazilian whore. The underlying tension comes from wanting to see how far the two sides of Marshall shown to us are prepared to go to reach his own end and atonement. The film on the surface seems to be putting a case forward for the viewer; USA v South America, but we remain gripped as we begin to feel sympathy and allegiance for all characters in this film – proving there’s always two, or more, sides to a story.
The cast, to my knowledge, are unknowns – certainly from an international perspective but the fact that Marshall sounds the spit of George Clooney made me warm to him; tragic but true – even in his digressing statem, both physically and mentally, throughout the film. The mixed use of American and South American actors was refreshing, equally the use of Portuguese (with subtitles) when necessary was spot on, which added a nice amount of authenticity as was the cinematography; grainy and sufficiently “unglossed”. Overall I felt this film encapsulated some aspects of Brazilian culture pretty accurately. The only negative feedback might have been that at times the dramatic change in tempo between the two concurrently-playing storylines made it hard going to keep up, but apart from that – it’s a keeper and one for your more intelligent friends on a Sunday night film club.
Finally, a quote to listen out for; “Living too much is far more painful than death” … an interesting take on American culture perhaps?
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