Rodrigo Santoro stars as Heleno de Freitas, a Brazilian soccer play who gained fame in Brazil during the 1940's before succumbing to syphilis in 1959 at the age of 39. Despite his doctors' orders and being aware that he had syphilis, Heleno refused to stop playing soccer, drinking booze or having sex with many women, including Diamantini (Angie Cepedo) and Silvia (Aline Moraes). His physical and mental health deteriorates, not surprisingly, as the film progresses, so even if you don't know about the story of the real-life Heleno de Freitas, you can easily predict how the story will end.
Whether or not the story is predictable in a biopic doesn't really matter as long as you're emotionally involved in it. Director/co-writer Josť Henrique Fonseca could have included more depth details about Heleno's life to humanize him; insteads he merely opts a shallow glimpse into the thoughts and feelings of Heleno. It's not the screenplay that adds depth or pathos to the film, but rather Rodrigo Santoro's tender and poignant performance. He's the heart and soul of Heleno and anchors the film with his conviction and charisma. Whether Heleno is at his highest point in his life or at his lowest point, you may not learn about him per se, but at least you'll truly care about him as a human being.
The black-and-white cinematography gives the film a very raw intensity and often breathtaking look that wouldn't have been possible to achieve with the same results via color. A few scenes fall flat, though, primarily those involving Heleno and his steamy relationships with Diamantini and Silvia, but the final moments of Heleno's life are so emotionally intense that they will have you at the edge of your seat and at the very least misty-eyed.
At a running time of just under two hours, Heleno is a shallow glimpse into the life of Heleno de Freitas that's anchored by breathtaking black-and-white cinematography and a bravura, raw performance by Rodrigo Santoro. It ultimately nourishes your heart more than your mind.
Only the Young
Kevin Conway and Garrison Saenz are best friends who live in Canyon County, California, and attend high school. When they're not at school, they wander around their desert town, skateboard together or just relax on a rooftop while conversing like any teenagers do. Garrison has been dating Skye Elmore for quite a while, but he soon becomes bored of her and breaks off the relationship before dating another girl who, unlike Skye, he shares very little in common with. When he ends up wanting Skye back it's too late because she's already in a serious relationship with another guy. Skye has issues of her own that rise to the surface including the fact that her father is in prison and that she's been living with her grandparents ever since she was 3-years-old when her mother lost custody of her. Meanwhile, Kevin hopes to win a skateboarding competition because its top prize would help him pay for college.
If the synopsis above makes Only the Young seem like a narrative instead of a documentary, you'd be correct because it's the kind of documentary with so much going on within it that you forget that it's a documentary. At times it makes you feel like you're watching a John Hughes-like, coming-of-age romantic drama given the evolving dynamics between Garrison and Skye's relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend. It's suspenseful, endearing and fascinating to observe the vicissitudes of their relationship. Relationships, after all, are far from simple or easy.
Co-directors Elizabeth Mims and Jason Tippet wisely don't include themselves in the footage nor do they provide you with merely talking heads or any exposition. Instead, they take a more observational approach that doesn't judge anyone on screen or spoon-feed information thereby letting you come to your own conclusions and glean whatever messages you find on your own.
What also makes the film rise above your standard, cut-and-dry documentary is that its subjects are articulate, honest and have a sense of humor. The more you spend time with them, the more you want to get to know them better. Skye, for instance, keenly admits that she refuses to do personal things impersonally when referring to her denial of her mother's Friend request on Facebook. She seems so wise beyond her years and even old fashioned for making such an astute observation, so why does she date guys who aren't at her maturity or intelligence level? Again, the co-directors let you answer that question for yourself. Perhaps Skye will able to answer it later in her life when she looks back at her days of youth.
Ultimately, Only the Young captures the essence of modern teenage life with warmth, honesty, humor and compassion. Itís equally endearing, relatable and entertaining.
A Werewolf Boy