Not surprisingly, this film was my first introduction to the legend whose life seems to have been scripted by a Greek tragedian. From humble beginnings, Heleno rose to stardom and nationwide fame even though he wasn't exactly playing for a top club (ironically, Botafogo will win a championship title after he leaves). As luck would have it, two successive world cups were also cancelled during his peak - understandable, it was after all the Second World War, and by the time the next one arrives, Heleno is already in a sanatorium, abandoned by his wife, and who would soon marry his best friend. Syphilis had taken its toll and he dies very young, in his late thirties. The film looks back from his final days, to a period when he had everything at his feet - the game, the money, and the women.
Fonseca's drama is an extremely sympathetic portrait of a man that some considered was irascible, with an insufferable ego. Considering that geniuses very rarely come in any other form, we are given a glimpse of what it is to be Heleno, and what made him feel so special, through some thoughtful and well executed screenplay. The talented Rodrigo Santoro gives a sterling performance as the tragic hero - by even shedding considerable weight for playing his character's final days. Shot in crisp black and white, the costumes and art direction avidly capture the glitz of Heleno's world and the period, including a memorable recreation of Copacabana in one of the scenes. The soundtrack adds to the nostalgia, and the performances by all the main actors are also of a high standard. Needless to say, this very well made film is Recommended Viewing..!
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Compilation: Angie Cepeda and Rodrigo Santoro
- This is of Colombian-born actress Angie Cepeda (boy she looks so different in this film!) plays club entertainer Diamantina whom Heleno befriends and has her for a mistress. In the scene, he jealously watches her flirt with admirers, and interrupts her performance to reassert himself.
- A desperately ill Heleno wanders around the ward in the nude, and is helped by a nurse. Heleno is admirably played by popular Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro.
- Heleno picks up some prostitutes on a rare day away from the sanatorium. Unfortunately I couldn't pick the names of the actresses from the credits, so for the moment they'll have to remain anonymous.