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Lamarca

A basically simple tale of a manhunt in the lush landscape of Brazil's Bahia region some 23 years ago when security forces hunted down a renegade army officer who had become the charismatic leader of a revolutionary group, "Lamarca" is standard fare which has little chance of finding international arthouse acceptance. Co-scripter and director Sergio Rezende handles his theme in a totally straightforward fashion, which makes for surprisingly dull viewing given the potent nature of the material.

A basically simple tale of a manhunt in the lush landscape of Brazil’s Bahia region some 23 years ago when security forces hunted down a renegade army officer who had become the charismatic leader of a revolutionary group, “Lamarca” is standard fare which has little chance of finding international arthouse acceptance. Co-scripter and director Sergio Rezende handles his theme in a totally straightforward fashion, which makes for surprisingly dull viewing given the potent nature of the material.

Carlos Lamarca, stoically portrayed by Paulo Betti, was a captain in the Brazilian Army who served with the U.N. forces in Suez and returned home a hero. But as he became politicized as the Brazilian government of the day moved further to the right, he eventually deserted the army and joined a revolutionary force dedicated to the violent overthrow of the very establishment he’d previously served.

For about nine months — between December 1970 and September 1971 — following an incident in which the Swiss ambassador to Brazil was kidnapped by Lamarca’s group, Lamarca and his followers were relentlessly hunted down. One by one, the members of his unit are either shot down or arrested and viciously tortured to make them reveal their leader’s hiding place. Even Lamarca’s mistress falls victim to the security crackdown.

Eventually, the defeated revolutionary hightails it to a remote part of Bahia with just one companion, but escape proves impossible.

A few flashbacks, awkwardly positioned at times, flesh out this simple tale with information about Lamarca’s past, but otherwise Rezende’s film is a flat and overly linear effort. Ironically, when these events were actually taking place, Brazil’s cinema nuovo movement, led by the late Glauber Rocha, was dazzling the world with its revolutionary pix; a poster for Rocha’s “Land in a Trance” is prominently displayed at one point, reminding one how much better Rezende’s film might have been.

The numerous gunfights are prosaically staged and seem strangely unconvincing , while true insight into Lamarca’s undoubtedly courageous life is lacking. Perfs and production values are adequate, though editor Isabelle Rathery might profitably have tightened the material.

Lamarca

(BRAZILIAN)

  • Production: A Producao da Cinema Filmes/Morena Filmes production. (International Sales: Riofilme, Rio de Janeiro.) Produced by Jose Joffily, Mariza Leao. Directed by Sergio Rezende. Screenplay, Rezende, Alfredo Oroz, based on the book "Lamarca Guerilla Captain" by Emiliano Jose Oldack Miranda.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Antonio Luiz Mendez; editor, Isabelle Rathery; music, David Tygel; production design, Clovis Bueno; sound, Jorge Saldanha. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival, Sept. 14, 1994. Running time: 129 MIN.
  • With: Carlos Lamarca ... Paulo Betti Iara ... Carla Camurati Fio ... Jose de Abreu Marcia ... Deborah Evelyn Zequinha ... Eliezer de Almeida
  • Music By: