Made, remarkably, with a crew consisting of at-risk sixteen-twenty year olds from impoverished communities around Brazil, as part of a project supported by UNICEF, this debut feature from Brazilian-American director MorattoIt, possesses all the simplicity and unforced poignancy of an Italian neo-realist picture.
After his mother's sudden death, Socrates (Malherios), a fifteen-year-old living on the outskirts of São Paulo's coastal region, is forced to survive on his own. His mother’s boss allows him to fill in on her cleaning job for a spell, believing that she is merely ill. When he finds out the truth, he tells Socrates that he has to let him go as he is underage. Socrates get a job at a junkyard where he quarrels with fellow young co-worker, Maicon (Ordakji) before their relationship takes a surprising turn. Threats of eviction and destitution, however, still hang over the teenager’s head.
What the picture lacks in a broader social context it makes up for with a real authenticity and immediacy, as well as a strong performance from newcomer (Malheiros) as the youngster having to grow up way too soon. While produced by Fernando ‘City of God’ Meirelles there’s no lurid scenes of teen criminality here. It is, undoubtedly, a grim, at times, harrowing odyssey, but leavened with glimpses of humanity too, even from the most unlikely characters.
Socrates is playing at selected cinemas and available on digital platforms from 4th September.
David Willoughby @DWill_Crackfilm