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R: ARCHIVE, S: MOVIES, D: 09/10/1998,

Central Station

A Phoenix pick

Set between the impoverished claustrophobia of Rio de Janeiro and the gorgeous vastness of the Brazil's outback, Central Station is an earnest tale of human compassion that blossoms through the improbable pairing of an elderly woman and an orphaned boy. The object of the film's title is hub to Rio's starving masses, where Dora (Fernanda Montenegro), a retired schoolteacher, pens letters for the illiterate. One day one of Dora's charges is run down by a bus, leaving her 10-year-old son, Josue (Vinicius de Oliveira), in Dora's care. Josue gets sold off to a crew of unsavory characters who intend to cut him up and sell his organs on the black market. Dora rescues Josue and renews her commitment to the boy, and the two embark on a personal odyssey across Brazil to find Josue's father.

The vehicle for director Walter Salles's bittersweet triumph is simple in scale only. His skills as a documentarian bring a dramatic richness to Brazil's back country; and the chemistry between de Oliveira and Montenegro, as they bond during their harrowing journey, is poignant. First-time actor de Oliveira is wonderfully wide-eyed as the dislocated youth, and Montenegro, gracefully dignified as the reluctant matriarch, gives one of the year's best performances. Screens at the Copley Place Tuesday, September 15 at 7 and 9:30 p.m. and Wednesday, September 16 at 1, 3:30, and 5 p.m. Director Walter Salles will appear before tonight's 7 p.m. showing.

-- Tom Meek

Film Festival Feature Films

| With Friends like These | Digging to China | Monument Ave. | Rounders | Lolita | God Said, 'Ha!' | My Son the Fanatic | The Mighty | Shattered Image | Gods and Monsters | Xui Xui: The Sent-Down Girl | Without Limits | Clubland | The Inheritors | The Celebration | Urban Ghost Story | The Boys | Living Out Loud | Stuart Bliss | The General | The Kindness of Strangers | Dancing at Lughnasa | Central Station | The Human Race | Double You Street | Oberwasser -- By U-boat to America | The Witman Boys | The Cruise | Confession of a Sexist Pig | Melting Pot |

 

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