This latest effort from writer/director Walter Salles Jr. (whose 1998 film Central Station won the Best Foreign Film Oscar) is a disappointing period melodrama. In 1910, in the Brazilian badlands, the poor, proud Breves family scratch a living from their sugar-cane fields. We learn from youngest son and narrator Pacu (Ravi Ramos Lacerda) that his eldest brother was recently killed in the latest installment of a centuries-old blood feud thatís being fought with the wealthy clan who stole the Brevesí land longer ago than anyone can remember. Middle son Tonho (Rodrigo Santoro) avenges the killing at his fatherís urging and of course becomes the next target. Pacu urges Tonho to break the cycle of revenge, but a meeting with the rival clanís patriarch does not go well. When a traveling circus comes to town, Tonho falls for an alluring green-eyed Gypsy (Flavia Marco Antonio) and tries to find a way to escape his fate.
Adapted from the novel Broken April by Albanian writer Ismaïl Kadaré (the setting is moved from Albania to Brazil), Behind the Sun offers a lush and languid mise-en-scène and authentic performances. But the plot is often predictable, and so depressing that it has little purpose in the present zeitgeist of hopelessness.