"West Side Story" in the Rio favelas is the concept behind "Another Love Story," helmer Lucia Murat's singing-and-dancing approach to slum life.

“West Side Story” in the Rio favelas is the concept behind “Another Love Story,” helmer Lucia Murat’s singing-and-dancing approach to slum life. Like a more socially conscious episode of “Fame!,” this musical wants to highlight creativity alongside the violence, but the direction feels unfocused and dance numbers tend toward anachronistically retro or merely underdeveloped. Energy and goodwill alone can’t breathe life into this old formula, though clever marketing could generate some sales.

Brightly colored opening is pic’s highlight, integrating dance into morning routines accompanied by the warmed-honey singing voice of Romeo stand-in Jonatha (Vinicius D’Black, a highlight). Brother Dudu (Babu Santana) is a kingpin in the Mare favela, but Jonatha falls for Analidia (Cristina Lago), whose cousin Be (Jefchander Lucas) is boss of the rival faction. Community focal point is a modern dance studio run by Fernanda (Marisa Orth), who combines Friar Lawrence with Debbie Allen in her mission to cultivate hope and opportunity through dance. Three rappers act as a Greek chorus, but their commentary plays more like parody. Murat (“Almost Brothers”) tries to match camera movement to the hip-hop beats, resulting in overactive lensing.

Another Love Story

Brazil-France-Uruguay

Production

A Taiga Filmes e Video, Limite (Brazil)/Gloria Films (France)/Lavoragine Filmes (Uruguay) production. (International sales: Wide Management, Paris.) Produced by Lucia Murat. Executive producers, Luis Vidal, Branca Murat, Daniel Lion. Co-producers, Luis Vidal, Laurent Lavole, Isabelle Pragier, Natacha Lopez. Directed by Lucia Murat. Screenplay, Murat, Paulo Lins.

Crew

Camera (color, 16mm-to-35mm, 35mm), Lucio Kodato; editors, Mair Tavares, Julia Murat; music, Fernando Moura, Marcos Suzano; production designer, Gringo Cardia; costume designer, Ines Salgado; choreographer, Graciela Figueroa. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 11, 2008. (Also in Rio de Janeiro Film Festival.) Portuguese dialogue. Running time: 104 MIN.

With

Marisa Orth, Cristina Lago, Vinicius D'Black, Anjo Lopes, Babu Santana, Jefchander Lucas, Nacao Mare, Elisa Lucinda, Flavio Bauraqui, Malu Galli.

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