Rita Cadillac – The Lady of the People (A Lady do Povo)

By 05 September, 2010

For anyone not from Brazil the story of Rita Cadillac may not be known. In fact, even to many Brazilians a lot of this story may be new. Rita Cadillac was a dancer in the Chacrinha TV show in the 80s where she achieved some notoriety. Due to her voluptuous figure she went onto further tv programs and had a brief spell as a pop singer (in the Samantha Fox or Sabrina vein) before becoming the pin-up for the Brazilian army, who she would visit often.

This documentary tells the story of her life, including all the other bits, those that would not normally be revealed and those that don’t really need to be revealed. Thus, we get to visit her first school and see the door to the house she grew up in, while we also get candid confessions about the tricks she pulled when she was a jobless single mother and the strains of being a young woman without any family. These last two could have been given far more coverage as they helped paint a vivid portrait of someone dealing with the baggage of bringing up a son with no support while also being one of Brazil’s biggest sex symbols.

Without this the documentary can sometimes feel a little two-dimensional, which is what happens here, especially when it can be questioned whether Rita’s life has been exciting enough for a full-length documentary in the first place. Following her regular appearances as a dancer on TV she released a couple of records and featured in some higher profile TV shows for a short while, but following that spent much of her time as a glamour model, entertaining the Brazilian army, before a later much-publicised stint as a porn star in her fifties. Throughout all of these jobs her main focus has been to pay the bills and look after her son. In other words, lead an ordinary life, and this is where the heart of the story lies, it’s just a shame that Toni Venturi, the director, failed to delve into these areas a bit more.

It makes me think this documentary would have been better-suited to an hour-long TV special, especially when taking into account its direction, which sometimes feels a little lacksadaisical, featuring scenes that have little or no importance and cause the pace of the story to drop considerably. At least, and this should have been the minimum requirement of the makers, the film should have treated Rita Cadillac with the respect she deserved for creating a life for herself and her son with very little support, and this is what the film does. In regards to its merits as a cinematic release it still needs quite a bit of work.

Rita Cadillac – The Lady of the People (A Lady do Povo) will receive its UK Premiere on Sept 5th as part of the 2nd Brazilian Film Festival of London. Read more about the festival HERE.

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