Produced, directed, written by Lucia Murat. Lucia Murat's "Sweet Power" is an involving but unremarkable drama about political maneuvering and media manipulation during a Brazilian election. Offshore theatrical prospects are slim, but pic may generate respectful attention on global fest circuit.

Produced, directed, written by Lucia Murat. Lucia Murat’s “Sweet Power” is an involving but unremarkable drama about political maneuvering and media manipulation during a Brazilian election. Offshore theatrical prospects are slim, but pic may generate respectful attention on global fest circuit.

Marisa Orth is well cast as Bia, a veteran broadcast news producer who arrives in the capital city of Brasilia to become news director of a major TV network. Her predecessor, like several other network employees, has been lured by the promise of big bucks to work as a media adviser in a gubernatorial campaign. Bia idealistically insists that she wants to remain an objective observer, not an active participant, when it comes to politics.

Periodically, “Sweet Power” features “interviews” with campaign workers who question the morality of their work. For the most part, however, pic sticks to Bia’s personal and professional crises.

Shortly after she begins her new job, Bia rekindles an adulterous affair with Chico (Antonio Fagundes), the campaign manager for an opposition candidate. Even so, she strives to maintain objectivity in her newscasts. Things get complicated when it’s revealed that one of her star reporters, a beautiful blonde, is having an affair with Chico’s candidate, a married AfricanBrazilian. Agents of the leading conservative candidate exploit the scandal for all it’s worth.

Bia becomes involved with Alex (Tuca Andrada), her chief news writer, although she hasn’t broken off with Chico. But her real problems don’t begin until her network bosses assign a new supervisor to watch over her. It quickly becomes clear that the supervisor’s chief duty is to slant news coverage to help the conservative candidate. Bia resigns in protest, and tries to expose the news manipulation to other media outlets. But she achieves little for her effort.

Pic ends on an unsatisfyingly anticlimactic note, with a sadder but wiser Bia leaving Brasilia for an uncertain future. Murat seems to be saying that, in a system so thoroughly corrupt, a lone idealist cannot make much difference. That may be true, but “Sweet Power” doesn’t do nearly enough to make this downbeat message seem fresh or compelling.

Orth gives a strong performance as Bia, vividly conveying the sharp intelligence and selfdeprecating humor of a professional who is worldly wise but not yet cynical. In a couple of brief, discreet nude scenes, Orth is both dignified and sensual. Supporting players, including Sergio Mamberti as the news director replaced by Bia, are firstrate.

Murat’s direction is visually inventive, particularly during “commercials” for the various candidates. Latter sharply reflect Murat’s reallife experience in TV journalism. Tech credits are fine.

Sweet Power

(Doces Poderes)

Production

(Brazilian) A Riofilme presentation of a Taiga Filmes e Video production.

Crew

Camera (color), Antonio Luiz Mendes; editors, Cesar Migliorin, Vera Freire; music, Sacha Amback, Adrianna Calcanhoto; art direction, Sergio Menezes; costume design, Ines Salgado; sound, Roberto Leite. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (World Cinema), Jan. 23, 1997. (Also in Berlin Film Festival --- Forum.) Running time: 98 MIN.

With

Bia ..... Marisa Orth Chico Silva ..... Antonio Fagundes Alex ..... Tuca Andrada Bob ..... Sergio Mamberti Leo Miranda ..... Otavio Augusto
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