Fraud, fun and good intentions

Director and screenwriter Sotiris Goritsas always has a knack for picking catchy titles for his films. After Balkanizater, a story of regional madness and humor, he presents Brazilero: a film that refers both to a second-rate Brazilian soccer player who has been bought by a small, regional Greek team, as much as it does to Greece’s own Latin American mentality of small-time fraud, easy gains, bravado, scamming, and at the bottom of it all, well-meant intentions and a good heart. Goritsas lifts the veils off this proverbial character one by one to reveal all of the conflicting cultural manifestations. The screenplay is based on two European Union inspectors (played by Rufus Beck and Ivano Marescotti) who come to Greece in order to trace a 10-year EU subsidy for the establishment of an historical cultural center, borrowed by a middle-working class family man (played by Stelios Mainas), who instead uses the money to purchase the lame-legged Brazilian soccer player for his regional team. The plot unfolds as Mainas, desperately trying to cover the tracks of his fraud, gets himself deeper and deeper into a quagmire of lies and strategic plotting. At the same time, the story is complicated by a number of other characters who comprise a kind of social/erotic merry-go-round: The wife (Maria Kehayioglou), the lover (Anna Moscha), the traditional regional party cat (Nikos Kouros), and a local television station director (Gerasimos Skiadaresis). Goritsas thus contrasts Western Europe’s traditional focus on order with the typically haphazard Greek manner of doing things, yet he does so in a non-condescending manner. He shows the interesting contrasts of the Greek character as he perceives it: sensitivity and cynicism, generosity and selfishness, modernization and anachronism, intelligence and naivete. But this time round, the director seems melancholic. Brazilero is a weaker effort than Balkanizater in terms of economy of words and actions, of meter and rhythm. It gets too involved in subplots such as the crisis between the man and his wife, the problems with their child, the lover, the inspectors’ involvement in small-town life, the abrupt changes brought upon the Greek periphery by the arrival of economic refugees, and more, all of which makes the film a bit tiring. But, while Goritsas’s new film is less organized and structured than Balkanizater, he has shown greater daring this time around by using new cinematic tools of expression. Brazilero is also helped greatly by a powerful soundtrack by Nikos Portokaloglou and an excellent cast.

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