A Child's Mind: The Door to Understanding
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/08/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"O Ano em Que Meus Pais Saíram de Férias (THE YEAR MY PARENTS WENT ON VACATION) is an amazing little film from Brazil written by Adriana Falcão and Claudio Galperin and directed with panache by Cao Hamberger. It tackles many important issues (political upheaval, religion, ghettos, soccer, aging and more) while telling a very tender story about a young lad forced into a change of life that builds his character and his appreciation for the global community. It works on every level.
The year is 1970, the place is São Paulo during the World Cup Soccer Games, and we meet the young Mauro (Michel Joelsas) as he is swept away from his home by his frantic parents to live in São Paulo with his grandfather: his parents tell him they are going on 'vacation' while in reality they are escaping the dictatorial 'disappearances' that challenged the Brazil of the time. The grandfather lives in the Jewish ghetto and Mauro soon discovers that his would be host has just died. He meets the adjoining neighbor, grumpy old Shlomo (Germano Haiut), who begrudgingly takes Mauro in and allows him to pursue his obsession with soccer. The story winds through the disparities of Jewish life and the governmental changes that are disrupting the flow of this important year for Brazil (there are many film clips of the famous player Pelé which add to the tenor of the story), and as Mauro makes friends with a little girl Hanna (Daniela Piepszyk) the two children are confronted with the realities of political strife and the glories of Brazil's World Cup. By keeping the narrative (in Portuguese, Yiddish and German) to a minimum the beauty of viewing the world and its incongruities through the eyes of children becomes even more touching.
This is one of those films that allows us a vantage of longstanding problems and gives us a fresh view - a factor that helps our understanding of traumas of the history and awareness of similar traumas of the present. Hamberger delivers it with tenderness and is greatly assisted by the artistic cinematography of Adriano Goldman and the musical score by Beto Villares. It is a film well worth seeing at least once! Grady Harp, August 08"
Another outstanding film as told from a kid's POV...
Steve Kuehl | Ben Lomond, CA | 07/12/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Here we have a film that caught me off guard in so many ways. I did not know there would be such a cultural diversity shown in this film (prevalent Jewish community). The World Cup games being played at that time with Pele (film takes place in 1970, Sao Paulo) wove into another central theme not shown in the ads I saw. And knowing how dissidents were "taken care of" by the government during that period, I was amazed how this film addressed the topics of adults "taking vacations" (disappearing). This alternate viewpoint of how a child sees all of this, while still keeping the rating at PG, was done very well.
The story revolves around a 11/12 year old boy that is hurriedly dropped off at his grandparent's house in Sao Paulo so his parents can take a "vacation". Unbeknownst to his parents, the patriarch had passed away that day, but they left without discovering this. Now being left to fend for himself, some Jewish neighbors take him under their wing. The remainder of the film yields a beautiful story of how our boy learns about life, the World Cup, a dictatorship government, Jewish culture, and in the end - how to become a man years before his time.
Definitely the opposite of the City of God in seeing how children live in this city, but still eloquently told. A good family film, even if you don't speak either language (Yiddish, Portuguese). The subtitles did not display in every Yiddish scene, but I still got the jist of what was being said.
The DVD special features were ideal in discovering how a film like this gets made. And kudos to every actor/crew person interviewed (2 docus: Inside the Movie at 7 minutes and Interviews with the Cast and Crew at 10 minutes) as there was never that twinge of how "great" everyone is to work with and idolize. They just discussed the film and what it took to become the characters - it was refreshing.
I recommend this film similarly to Under the Same Moon. A well acted and believable movie that will leave you with questions, but in a way that makes you realize you just saw a good story."
A sad coming of age
Alan A. Elsner | Washington DC | 11/26/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The year is 1970 and Brazil's soccer team is challenging to win the World Cup. Its successful campaign should have dominated 11-year-old Mauro's year. But his parents are Communists and Brazil is ruled by a brutal military regime. They have to go into hiding and decide to dump Mauro with his grandfather in Sao Paulo.
The problem is, as Mauro discovers when he knocks on the door of his grandfather's apartment, the old man has had a heart attack and died. Here the movie indulges in a moment of unreality that seriously spoiled it for me. Which parents would dump their 11 year-old kid outside an apartment and not knock on the door to hand him over? And yet, without this totally unbelievable moment, there is no movie.
It turns out that grandfather is an orthodox Jew, whereas Mauro's parents have brought him up in ignorance of his heritage and have not even had him circumcised. So he is thrown on the mercy of the old man who lives next door and an unlikely friendship eventually grows up between the young boy and the neighbor.
There are some sweet things in this movie -- the acting is good and the relationships well-developed. But one doesn't feel the rage and pain of an abandoned child, left by his parents with no proper explanation.
Brazil does win the Cup but that's the only point that is truly resolved. The movie ends on a bittersweet note without really processing the meaning or significance of the year he spent alone in Mauro's life.
The Year My Parents Went On Vacation is a powerful film
Robert G Yokoyama | Mililani, Hawaii | 09/28/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The sport of soccer is a source of national pride for the people of Brazil during the World Cup. This is one theme in the movie The Year My Parents Went On Vacation. Another theme of the movie is the separation of children from their parents during the Cold War and the opppression of people during the military dictatorship. Director Cao Hamburger presents these themes in this beautiful movie set in Brazil in 1970.
I watched this movie with English subtitles. There are some brief parts in the movie with no English subtitles to accompany the Portuguese dialogue, but it didn't prevent me from understanding it. I like the friendship of young boy Mauro and the elderly Polish Jewish man who takes care of him after his grandfather dies. I also love the friendship between Mauro and Hanna in the movie. Michel Joelsas is an excellent young actor who gives an authentic performance as a boy separated from his parents in the lead role. The performance of all the other actors in the movie are excellent as well. I enjoyed watching the bonus features on this DVD. There are interviews with the director and members of the cast. This is a moving and informative film about a country I knew very little about."