Hour of the Star, directed by Susanna Amaral is currently ranked #926 among the 1000 Greatest Films of All Time according to They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? I made the following video as part of my blog project Shooting Down Pictures.
On my blog entry for this film, I wrote:
Brazilian Suzana Amaral’s impressive debut feature (made when she was 52, having enrolled at NYU Film School after raising nine children) is a stark portrait of Macabéa, a young office typist surviving in the slums of Sao Paolo. At first Macabéa’s ignorance and nose-picking lack of social graces test the audience’s sympathies, seemingly as gratuitous as a Farrelly Brothers gross-out. But it’s a tough kind of empathy Amaral is striving for, not flinching from the piss-pot details of Macabéa’s life while teetering on the brink of dunking the audience’s faces in it. Making great use of the expressive deadpan of unglamorous lead actress Marcelia Cartaxo, Amaral is able to convey a rich interior landscape of thought and desire in her protagonist with even the most unadorned camerawork (unassuming even during a couple of fantasy sequences). Amaral also exudes Macabéa’s stream of consciousness through a dense soundtrack of radio programs spewing useless trivia (which Macabéa later regurgitates to her chauvinistic loser boyfriend) and an electronic score whose chintzy tinniness seems oddly suitable to the heroine’s aesthetic disposition. Blessed with a densely descriptive novel by Clarice Lispector as its source text, the script and art direction impart volumes of incidental information about life as an urban Brazilian girl working barely above the poverty line. But extending beyond social realist reportage, the dreamy sequences where Macabéa rides the subway (the scent of men’s exposed armpits inciting dreams of love) or dances with a bedsheet on her head as a bride in waiting, complement the sordid mundane existence that surrounds these lyrical oases.