Terra Estrangeira


Terra Estrangeira
Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas
1996, VideoFilmes
100 minutes (Portuguese with English subtitles)

LATAMROB rating: **

INTENDED to be an examination of the emigrant’s longing for home, this black and white foray into the relationship between Brazilians and the Iberian motherland rapidly loses its sense of direction behind the obvious chemistry that exists between the two main characters. Paco (Fernando Alves Pinto), the Brazilian son of a lonely Spanish immigrant, decides to leave his country following his mother’s death and travel to the homeland she never stopped dreaming about. Naïve to the point of being almost backward, the hapless young man finds himself dangerously enmeshed in an international diamond smuggling ring. He falls in with the beautiful but lost Alex (Fernanda Torres) a Brazilian waitress now in Portugal and pining for a homeland that has rejected her, and they become fugitives – and lovers – while escaping the evil smuggler Ígor (Luís Melo). However, like the main characters themselves, it is never quite clear what the destination of Terra Estrangeira (Foreign Land) is meant to be. If the aim was to examine homesickness and the illusions about our native land that we all cherish, it loses its sense of purpose following the death of Alex’s mother (Laura Cardoso) early in the film. As it morphs into a quasi thriller, the plot becomes lost in the backstreets of Lisbon, before emerging on the journey to San Sebastián in Spain as something of a road movie, possibly. It’s not Salles’ best, although Alves Pinto and the inimitable Torres make a fine couple and there are some striking images. – EC

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