Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. Brazil/USA, 1985. HB Filmes, FilmDallas Pictures. Screenplay by Leonard Schrader, based on the novel by Manuel Puig. Cinematography by Rodolfo Sanchez. Produced by David Weisman. Music by Nando Carneiro, John Neschling. Production Design by Clovis Bueno. Costume Design by Patricio Bisso. Film Editing by Mauro Alice. Academy Awards 1985. Cannes Film Festival 1985. Golden Globe Awards 1985. Independent Spirit Awards 1985. National Board of Review Awards 1987. New York Film Critics Awards 1985.
Deeply felt adaptation of Manuel Puig’s novel, about a gay window-dresser (William Hurt) and a radically political guerilla rebel (Raul Julia) who get to know each other while sharing a cell in a Brazilian prison. Hurt recounts the story of an old Nazi propaganda movie that he loves for its portrayal of a gorgeous femme fatale, while Julia voices his opinions about the fecklessness of the upper-classes and the noble purpose of his cause. Spending time together, they eventually find the middle of the road and learn to expand their horizons, Hurt understanding the need to care more about the serious issues of his country and Julia learning that strength need not always take the form of brutal masculinity. The characters are so involving that you’ll be swept up in their relationship as well, and director Hector Babenco does a beautiful job of making a riveting film out of the interaction between them. Both actors are equally impressive (with only Hurt receiving Oscar recognition, and unfairly so), while Sonia Braga shines as the woman in both Hurt’s film story as well as Julia’s memory of love gone by. Later transformed into a shallow Broadway musical.