Mango Yellow

A wildcat of a film guaranteed to shock even jaded viewers, Claudio Assis' debut feature "Mango Yellow" is a provocative tale of low-rent losers set in the coastal town of Recife, Brazil.

With: Matheus Nachtergaele, Jonas Bloch, Leona Cavalli, Dira Paes, Chico Diaz.

A wildcat of a film guaranteed to shock even jaded viewers, Claudio Assis’ debut feature “Mango Yellow” is a provocative tale of low-rent losers set in the coastal town of Recife, Brazil. Like characters out of some Carnival hell, a macho butcher and his born-again wife, a forlorn barmaid, a sinister sadist and the gay manager of a flophouse called the Hotel Texas run in and out of each other’s lives in a film as sloppy, sluttish, scruffy and vital as they are. Though pic struggles to reach a meaning beyond its own shock value, it has the kind of in-your-face transgressiveness that should fit the bill at festivals looking for original Brazilian fare.

As storefronts open and people pour out onto the street on a typical Recife morning, sexy but lonely waitress Daisy (Leona Cavalli) slips on a minidress and nothing else to start serving in a bar. Her lack of underwear will be recalled in an eye-opening scene much later in the film.

Flamboyant Dunga (Matheus Nachtergaele) revs up the Hotel Texas, among whose colorful band of misfits is a nasty foreigner named Isaac (Jonas Bloch). His hobby, illustrated in a graphic scene, is shooting corpses. Lusty Wellington (Chico Diaz), who works in a gruesome slaughterhouse — that will put many viewers off meat for a while — loves his dignified wife Kika (Dira Paes) but can’t resist the tawdry Daisy.

Dunga has a hopeless crush on the muscular Wellington and maneuvers to break up his marriage. Kika, who has turned to an evangelical cult to find meaning in her life, suddenly wakes up to the fact that she’s been dead inside for years, especially sexually.

Like a practiced barman, Assis mixes and stirs his characters around in their slummy but familiar surroundings. He gets much closer to them than most filmmakers shooting in Brazil’s shanty towns, who concentrate on crimes perpetrated against those on the outside. Here the people relate strictly to each other. If not for a few shots of tall buildings on the skyline, one would never know another class existed in Recife.

Mango yellow is both the jaundiced shade of their broken dreams and, when Kika cuts and dyes her long black hair in the last scene, the color is of nonconformity and feeling alive.

In this world of desperate eccentrics looking for happiness, pro actor Nachtergaele is a standout as the emotionally over-endowed Dunga, all flailing arms and neurotic efficiency. He embodies the film’s savage over-the-topness without flattening out as some of the other characters do.

Shot in revealing widescreen by top Brazilian lenser Walter Carvalho (“Central Station”) on a proverbial shoestring, scenes have raw vitality and a violent up-closeness to the characters. Renata Pinheiro’s sets, which reach their peak at the Hotel Texas, are littered with a lot to look at and underscored by a loud, strong music beat put together by Lucio Maia and Jorge Du Peixe.

Mango Yellow


Production: An Olhos de Cao Filmworks production. (International sales: Grupo Novo de Cinema & TV, Rio de Janeiro.) Produced by Paulo Sacramento, Claudio Assis. Directed by Claudio Assis. Screenplay, Hilton Lacerda.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Walter Carvalho; editor, Paulo Sacramento; music, Lucio Maia, Jorge Du Peixe; production designer, Renata Pinheiro; sound (Dolby Digital), Louis Robin. Reviewed at Rio de Janeiro Film Festival, Oct. 4, 2002. Running time: 103 MIN.

With: With: Matheus Nachtergaele, Jonas Bloch, Leona Cavalli, Dira Paes, Chico Diaz.

More Film

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ 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, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

  • Little Woods

    Film Review: 'Little Woods'

    So much of the recent political debate has focused on the United States’ southern border, and on the threat of illegal drugs and criminals filtering up through Mexico. But what of the north, where Americans traffic opiates and prescription pills from Canada across a border that runs nearly three times as long? “Little Woods” opens [...]

  • Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping

    Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping $60 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has become a destination for television visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, with deals worth $100 million and $250 million, respectively, and top comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ($40 million and $60 million, respectively). The streaming giant, which just announced it’s added nearly 10 million subscribers in Q1, is honing in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content