×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Who Killed Pixote?

Fernando Ramos da Silva Cassiano Carneiro Cida Luciana Rigueira

Fernando Ramos da Silva Cassiano Carneiro Cida Luciana Rigueira

With: Joana Fomm, Tuca Andrada, Roberto Bomtempo, Paulo Betti, Maria Luiza Mendonca, Antonio Petrim, Antonio Abujamra.

Who Killed Pixote?” is a disappointing dramatic reconstruction of the turbulent life and untimely death of child actor Fernando Ramos da Silva, who achieved instant celebrity in his first movie, “Pixote,” Hector Babenco’s hearbreaking expose about poor children in Sao Paulo. A missed opportunity to make a powerful drama about Brazil’s underprivileged class, new film is directed in an over-the-top tabloid style, unlikely to appeal even to “Pixote’s” most devoted fans. Pic may travel the international festival road as a curio item, based on Babenco’s well-respected movie, but prospects for theatrical release are meager.

Ramos da Silva (Cassiano Carneiro), a working-class boy in Sao Paulo, was only 11 when director Babenco cast him in the title role of “Pixote” (1980), a haunting film about children forced to become street criminals. The movie won numerous prizes, including citations for best foreign film from both the N.Y. and L.A. film critics, gaining the boy an instant international celebrity.

Sadly, his fame and success were fleeting, for he managed to make only one film despite ambitious dreams “to make it big” as a movie star. According to this biodrama, the uneducated Fernando had trouble reading the few scripts he was sent, and his one effort at appearing in a popular soap ended disastrously.

Navigating between Fernando’s public and private personas, “Who Killed Pixote?” places his tragedy within the context of misery, poverty and injustice in which he and his large family lived. Resented by his brutish elder brother for being the favorite child, Fernando was subjected to humiliation — at home he was called “the poor man’s James Dean” — even though for a short period of time he was the sole provider.

With limited prospects for a brighter future, Fernando apparently was dragged into a world of petty crime by his brothers. In 1987, he was caught by police during a burglary. Sent to prison, he began getting unexpected visits from an admiring fan, Cida(Luciana Rigueira), who later became his loyal wife. Unable to support her and their newborn daughter, Fernando sank deeper and deeper into depression and crime.

Based on Fernando’s life, as recounted in Brazilian journalist Jose Loureiro’s expose “Pixote, the Law of the Strongest” and his widow’s memoirs, “Who Killed Pixote?,” the film points a finger at the police force, and one officer in particular.

It’s hard to gauge how accurate the screen portrait is, though the drama is too movieish and replete with cliches to register strongly.

Pic covers a lot of territory, but despite ample time, it’s a bit superficial.

Despite honorable intentions and an interesting life to relate, “Pixote” is not touching. The film is constantly on the verge of hysteria, with sequence after sequence ending with characters sobbing or screaming at each other. This is also reflected in the acting: Young thesps Carneiro and Rigueira render emotionally raw, but ultimately not very inspiring performances, which works against the overall effect of a film that suffers from unbridled melodramatics.

Who Killed Pixote?

(QUEM MATOU PIXOTE?)

Production: (BRAZILIAN) A Coeves Films production. Produced by Alvarina Souza Silva, Paulo Halm, Jose Joffily. Directed by Jose Joffily. Screenplay, Halm, Joffily, based on the books "Pixote, the Law of the Strongest" by Jose Loureiro and "Who Killed Pixote?" by Cida Venancio da Silva.

Crew: Camera (color), Nonato Estrela; editor, Vera Freire; music, David Tygel, Mauricio Masetro. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival, Aug. 29, 1996. (Also in AFI/L.A. fest.) Running time: 120 MIN.

More Film

  • WGA Writers Contract Talks

    Talent Agents, WGA Achieve Progress in Second Round of Talks

    Hollywood talent agents and the Writers Guild of America have achieved some progress at their second negotiating session over agency regulations, according to sources close to the talks. The two sides met Tuesday, two weeks after their first meeting resulted in both sides criticizing each other, followed by the WGA holding a trio of spirited [...]

  • Aaron Paul

    Film News Roundup: Aaron Paul Honored by Sun Valley Film Festival

    In today’s film news roundup, Aaron Paul is honored, Bruce Berman is re-upped at Village Roadshow, and Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher get a book deal. FESTIVAL HONORS The Sun Valley Film Festival has selected Idaho native and three-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul as the winner of its Pioneer Award, presented by Variety for his [...]

  • Olivia Munn]EMILY'S List Pre-Oscars Brunch, Inside,

    Olivia Munn Says Brett Ratner Called Her Before His 'Howard Stern' Apology

    Olivia Munn is setting the record straight about standing up to “Rush Hour” director Brett Ratner, whom she alleges sexually harassed her over a decade ago. During a panel discussion at the Emily’s List pre-Oscars brunch at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills Tuesday morning, Munn revealed that Ratner called her in 2011 after he denied [...]

  • Flesh Out review

    Berlin Film Review: 'Flesh Out'

    Ignore the awful English-language title: “Flesh Out” is an emotionally rich, sensitively made film about a young woman in Mauritania forced to gain weight in order to conform to traditional concepts of well-rounded beauty before her impending marriage. Strikingly registering the sensations of a protagonist living between the dutiful traditions of her class and the [...]

  • Marighella review

    Berlin Film Review: 'Marighella'

    Does Brazil need a film that openly advocates armed confrontation against its far-right government? That’s the first question that needs to be asked when discussing “Marighella,” actor Wagner Moura’s directorial debut focused on the final year in the life of left-wing insurrectionist Carlos Marighella during Brazil’s ruthless military dictatorship. For whatever one might think of [...]

  • Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his Night

    ‘How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, DreamWorks Animation claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” Ads placed for the fantasy film had an estimated media value [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content