A Starry Sky

A tawdry, hothouse meller with some weak media satire thrown in, "A Starry Sky" uncorks plenty of unpleasant behavior in the name of social commentary. Raw sex scenes could gain it some vid attention, but fest and arthouse auds will be looking in different directions.

With:
Alleyona Cavalli, Paulo Vespucio Garcia, Ligia Cortez, Nea Simoes, Norival Rizzo, Rosa Petri. (Portuguese dialogue)

A tawdry, hothouse meller with some weak media satire thrown in, “A Starry Sky” uncorks plenty of unpleasant behavior in the name of social commentary. Raw sex scenes could gain it some vid attention, but fest and arthouse auds will be looking in different directions.

Right off the bat, helmer Tata Amaral announces her disinterest in viewer involvement with five minutes of grainy, hand-held B&W footage of Sao Paulo skyscrapers, shot from below and accompanied by a stark industrial beat. Scene then switches to an uncomfortable mother-daughter standoff in working-class digs, as youngish, skimpily clad Dalva (Alleyona Cavalli), having won a trip to Miami in a hairdressing competition, tries to figure out how to tell her old-fashioned mom (Ligia Cortez) that she’s finally leaving the nest.

She never gets the chance. Instead, her ex – the violent, impulsive Victor (Carlos Santana look-alike Paulo Vespucio Garcia) – shows up and won’t go away. Soon, he produces a pistol and starts threatening her mother, who locks herself in the bathroom.

At this point, the formerly resolute Dalva gets so turned on, she abruptly jumps Paulo’s bones in the hall. Later, the gun goes off, apparently killing Mom, but that only makes the couple hotter. Several implausible humps later, the

woman suddenly realizes she’s in a pickle, and starts wanting to get rid of the annoying – not to mention murderous – dude. By then, however, the neighbors have

called the cops, who surround the house, assuming there’s a hostage thing going down. Local TV crews also barge in on the fun, providing some by-now-familiar laughs at rampant tabloid sensibility.

Lenser Hugo Kevensky’s cameras (there are several stocks employed here) do a good job at keeping the mostly two-handed events from turning claustrophobic, and Brazilian pop music is well used. But helmer – despite claim that she shifted original tale to female p.o.v. – seems determined to up the ugliness quotient at every turn. Although perfs are generally good, the script never gets

past lowlife cliches to explain why these people do what they do. Auds won’t care, anyway; only specialized Latin fests are likely to get “Starry”-eyed. Pic was booed at Toronto preem.

A Starry Sky

Brazilian

Production: A Casa de Produco (Sao Paulo) production. (International sales: Grupo Novo de Cinema e TV, Rio de Janeiro.) Produced by Tata Amaral. Executive producers, Renato Bulcao, Maria Ionescu. Directed by Tata Amaral. Screenplay, Jean Claude Bernadet, Roberto Moreira, based on a novel by Fernando Bonassi.

Crew: Camera (color/B&W, 35mm/Hi8), Hugo Kevensky; editor, Ide Lacreta; music, Livio Trachtenberg, Wislon Sakorski; production design, Ana Mara Abreu; costume design, Miko Hashimoto; sound, Joao Godoy, Eduardo Santos Mendes. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival, Sept. 10, 1996. Running time: 70 MIN.

With: Alleyona Cavalli, Paulo Vespucio Garcia, Ligia Cortez, Nea Simoes, Norival Rizzo, Rosa Petri. (Portuguese dialogue)

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