A dramatized account of the life of the young slum dweller who perpetrated the Rio de Janeiro hijacking depicted in Jose Padilha’s excellent 2003 docu, “Bus 174,” Bruno Barreto’s “Last Stop 174” goes through the motions of depicting a deeply troubled and bereft life but adds little new to the many bigscreen portrayals of poverty and desperation at the bottom of Brazil’s society. Because of the milieu’s familiarity and thoroughness of the earlier docu, a yawning sense of deja vu cloaks the entire film, which may click in its home country but doesn’t look to travel far.
Pic actually examines the ill fortune of two boys, Alessandro and Sandro, orphans who drift into crime and bond in prison. Parallel strand has Alessandro’s religious mother searching for her son for years until finding Sandro and deciding he’s the one. Well-known tragic ending hangs over everything, and a film like this needs to do more than just encourage sympathy and understanding for society’s dispossessed. Young thesps and street locations have vitality, although secondary adult roles are caricatured. English subtitles at least need to correct “Linch him!” to “Lynch him!” in the climactic scene.