A trenchant, uncompromising look at Brazilian juvenile delinquents, Pixote is a social expose of the first order. Although milieu of the urban jungle is sordid and situation depicted seems beyond hope even for the most idealistic reformers, director Hector Babenco has made this tragic drama come vividly, even excitingly, alive through the extraordinary performances of his non-pro cast of slum youngsters.
Tale’s primary focus is one Pixote, an abandoned boy with an oddly haunting face. Despite nominal instructional efforts within the ‘school,’ all anyone picks up there are more criminal ideas. After an hour in this almost unthinkable squalor, film follows a gang of four out into Sao Paulo and later Rio after their successful escape.
Ringleader is a self-styled ‘queen,’ nearing the critical age of 18, who involves the group in drug dealing through a tough black lover. Sent to Rio to sell some dope, the band falls in with local pimps and hookers and quickly progresses from petty crime to murder.
Babenco [inspired by Jose Louzeiro’s book Infancia dos Mortos] working from a book by DeLouis Louza, displays no conventional liberal or sentimental instincts. Film is sufficiently dramatized and structured to lift it out of the realm of the docu-drama, but caught-in-the-act sense of reality is virtually total. Technically, film is just okay.