Sunday, 16 February 2014

A review: "Bonitinha Mas Ordinária" [2013 Brazil]


Moacyr Góes tries to update Nelson Rodrigues' torrid play "Bonitinha Mas Ordinária" [Eng. Title: Pretty, but Ordinary] for the twenty first century, but one couldn't help wondering whether it was a futile exercise...

It's a tragic story of seventeen year old Maria Cecília (Letícia Colin), the daughter of powerful businessman Dr. Werneck (Gracindo Júnior), after she had been raped by five black men in the nightclub of a favela in Rio de Janeiro. Her parents decide to get her married, and ask their manager Peixoto (Leon Góes) to find a husband who could remain subservient to them. He chooses Edgar (Leon Góes), a simple man in their company who'd worked his way up after joining as an 'Office Boy' eleven years ago.

Even though Edgar had been trying to win the affections of the rather stubborn neighbour Ritinha (Leandra Leal) - and his is still a work in progress, he's hesitant to accept the proposal because of the Wernecks' attempt to 'buy' him by dangling dowry-like financial rewards. But when he meets Maria Cecília and learns about her rape ordeal first-hand, he begins to fall in love with her as well. The dilemma presented between Edgar's principles and genuine feelings of love towards both women will be resolved when additional facts concerning Ritinha, Maria Cecília, and Peixoto come to light...

The issue with the film is that it appears outdated for today's Brazil, and most certainly for Rio; marriage and prostitution seem to be the only viable prospects available for women, rich people are shown to be doing whatever they want as if it were some feudal society, and while class barriers and racial stereotyping still exist, in reality it is a whole lot more subtle than how it's shown here.

But my main problem with the film is the quality of the production itself, which has more in common with a daytime telenovela than proper cinema. It was disappointing to see that Moacyr Góes' screenplay has not been fully developed, especially since I'd thoroughly enjoyed his earlier film O Homem Que Desafiou o Diabo. The quality and style of editing is poor, because it snuffs out whatever drama the actors get to project. While Leandra Leal gives a fine performance as she always does, the rest are at best passable. For a more convincing interpretation of the story, I'd recommend the older version of the film (Bonitinha Mas Ordinária ou Otto Lara Rezende, from 1981 - itself a remake).

DVD Order Link [NTSC]


The Nudity: Letícia Colin, Beatriz Bertu, Lisa Fávero, and Patrícia Elizardo

Pretty Letícia Colin appears nude in three scenes, and all three are about the rape as seen from different viewpoints - the 'official' version of events, Maria Cecília's, and later Peixoto's. Beatriz Bertu, Lisa Fávero, and Patrícia Elizardo - they play the younger sisters of Ritinha - appear briefly nude during a scene when all the sisters are raped at a party organised by Wernek.

Letícia Colin, Beatriz Bertu, Lisa Fávero, and Patrícia Elizardo nude in Bonitinha, mas Ordinária


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