Poignant, sad, fabulously well acted film. Not a masterpiece, but this film is incredibly touching and so worth watching.
Set in 1970 Brazil. We follow several months in the life of an 11 year old boy. The title is a euphemism for the year that my parents went away to protest the Brazilian military rule. They know it's too dangerous for their son, so they leave him with the boy's father. The parents drop Mauro off in front of his grandfather's apartment building; promising to return before the World Cup soccer match. Mauro bangs on his grandfather's door, nobody answers. Sadly we find out he died suddenly that day. The next door neighbor, Shlomo a devout Jew, agrees to take care of Mauro. At first they hate eachother, and as time progresses the two develop a relationship. The rest of the plot is so worth discovering, it is a bad idea to spoil that process.
The acting is absolutely amazing. Mauro, played by 11 year old Michel Joelsas, could school many an older actor. He has such a charm, an innocence, a maturity, an observant eye. In the bonus feature interview, it was clear the director, Cao Hamburger (watch the interview, his last name is so appropriate), developed a relationship with Michel and got him to deliver such a good performance. Michel says he was in 170 scenes - a huge feat for seasoned actors. Germano Haiut plays Shlomo so perfectly. Another interview well worth watching. He is a grumpy old man, but warms up as the film progresses. It's not sappy, it feels real. Daniela Piepszyk plays the alpha female, Hanna. She was also 11 at the time of filming, and does a fantastic job portraying this amazing young girl.
The rest of the cast is equally outstanding. Hamburger even found a handsome young man to play the local soccer team's goalie and Irene's boy friend. Irene, the gorgeous young woman Mauro befriends, is stunning in her sweetness and sensuality.
For a director that has made very few movies, The Year My Parents Went On Vacation, is surprisingly well made. Hamburger uses light and mirros frequently. The effects are stunning - often times a person is speaking and another is seen reflected in a mirror or a pane of glass. A tricky technique at best to create two shots. In the deleted scenes, there is a much better ending montage. Hamburger missed the bookend at the end - early in the film, Mauro is told to eat, he's too skinny. There is a missed opportunity to close that loop with another character at the end (it is shown in the deleted scene).
The time and setting of this film was critical. Apparently, 1970 was an effervescent period in Brazilian history. It was the third world cup victory with Pele; and the peak of the military run government.
The film is shown in Portugese (Brazilian) with English subtitles. At one hour 40 minutes it is exactly the right length. The film is probably not rated in the US. It would most likely be PG-13; or maybe PG. There is no strong language. No violence. There is one scene where Mauro finds some older post cards of naked pin-up girls (the scene lasts maybe 15 seconds). Otherwise there is no nudity.
This is a special film. It is sad, but heartwarming. A wonderful visit with this amazing group of actors.
O Ano em Que Meus Pais Saíram de Férias (THE YEAR MY PARENTS WENT ON VACATION) is an amazing little film from Brazil written by Adriana Falcão and Claudio Galperin and directed with panache by Cao Hamberger. It tackles many important issues (political upheaval, religion, ghettos, soccer, aging and more) while telling a very tender story about a young lad forced into a change of life that builds his character and his appreciation for the global community. It works on every level. The … more