Beto Brant can be quite frustrating indeed – like the Italian director Dino Risi in some respects, there are moments in his films that can be utterly magical, but also moments when the screenplay meanders aimlessly and the characterisation gets clouded with unnecessary details. Co-directed by Renato Ciasca, his drama “Cão Sem Dono” [Eng. Title: Stray Dog] aims to be a study of disillusionment and alienation among urban youth, but strays off course for too long while failing to make the detour any interesting.
Unemployed Ciro (Júlio Andrade) is going through depression, and also seems to be suffering from an unknown illness. He wants to be a writer, but settles for the occasional translation work that he could get. His companion is a stray dog he’d picked up from the streets, and his only friend is a janitor whose paintings he’s fascinated with. Into his dull life will arrive the young and vivacious Marcela (Tainá Müller) – an aspiring model hoping to make it in Barcelona. It’s hard to gather what Marcela sees in Ciro, but she loves him passionately even if he hardly reciprocates with the same intensity – sometimes we get the impression that he’d have preferred her not falling in love with him. This will change when Marcela leaves him to receive treatment for a dangerous form of cancer that he never knew she had. Whilst living alone and fixing his parents’ property, he descends into alcoholism after failing to locate Marcela’s whereabouts. Upon overdosing on one occasion, his parents arrive on time for rescue, and take him back to live with them. Ciro recovers, and begins to learn living like a proper grown up…
This film could easily have been made a whole lot more better – there is after all something there to explore, but while there is the odd glimpse of Beto Brant’s undoubted ability, it is far too sporadic to be of any interest. Many scenes are faded off even before they come to a logical end – it may have been intentional, but it ends up resembling flashes of memory from someone who had lost interest in it halfway and moves on to something else. Ciro is also not the most inspiring character I’d met in a film, and the only thing we look forward to is for his scene to end. I guess even fine directors are entitled to the occasional dud, if only to cleanse their system of mediocrity that tend to accumulate after success.
DVD Order Link
(It’s a bizarre, single-layered 2-DVD set – all that the second DVD contains is a MP4 version for mobile devices and the Making-Of documentary)
The Nudity: Tainá Müller and Júlio Andrade
One thing Beto Brant has to be applauded for is his uncanny ability to unearth stunning leading ladies for his films. Gorgeous Tainá Müller makes her début here, and also bags a couple of awards for a very commendable performance. She appears nude alongside Andrade in three scenes, one of which is also surprisingly ‘hands-on’ – you’ll know what I mean when you see it.