Judge Daryl Loomis once sold his pet goat for a handful of magic beans. There wasn't any gold at the top, but there was a pretty nice view of the sunset.
Hey buddy, wanna buy a goat?
Every genre of film has a formula. It's what filmmakers do with that formula that matters. Sometimes, they take the conventions and turn them on their ear. Sometimes, they try to alter the formula and fall flat of their faces. Once in a while, though, a film will come out that is the template of the form. Often, these are the worst kind. It's great to love a film that succeeds with the formula and fun to hate one that bungles it, but those that do nothing with it are hard to care about. This Brazilian coming of age film falls decidedly into that latter category.
Facts of the Case
Joãozinho (Diego Borges), a poor Brazilian boy walks in on his grandmother, his only living family, praying for her own death. Her legs are bad, her heart is bad, and she can't afford the medicine that will help her pain. Moved by her pleas but scared to lose her, Joãozinho takes his only possession, a baby goat, to the big city to sell her and buy his grandmother's medicine. Along the way, he meets people of all types and grows up a little in the process.
The Eighth Color of the Rainbow is your most standard kind of "coming of age" film. A young boy, hard of luck but full of heart, has a mission that he must sacrifice for. To complete his mission, he must travel far and overcome challenge after challenge. After the journey is complete, he is more of a man than when he started. While this is a tried and true way toward a heartwarming story, writer and director Amauri Tangara seems to have created his film directly off a template. Though there's nothing original to offer, there's nothing very bad about it, either. It hits the emotional points when it needs to, but there is nothing unexpected at any point.
Before Joãozinho leaves for the big city, we get slices of rural life that show an eccentric lot of poor but well meaning people. They get by working together and helping each other but, when times get tough and people get sick, they just don't have the means to help. They love granny, and don't want her to suffer, but they simply can't afford it. Granny is strong and has kept her pain from Joãozinho for as long as she could, but it overwhelms her and the anguish comes out in her prayers. When Joãozinho hears this, he knows that it's time to give up his boyhood fantasies and become a man. Initially, he's willing to sacrifice everything for this grandmother, so steals away into the unknown of the capital. He arrives, however, to find a dangerous city and slim prospects for selling the goat, and his focus becomes as much on getting home as on his grandmother's comfort. He's a small town kid in the big city and his complete lack of understanding comes out best when he goes to the pharmacist. He has no money and doesn't even know the name of the medicine he needs; all he knows is that it's for pain. The pharmacist clearly believes that the kid's looking for a fix, but Joãozinho has no conception of such a thing. This is one of the funnier scenes in the film, but also shows his childishness. This comes out most directly when he finally does find a buyer for the goat. They guy's honest and gives him a fair price, but Joãozinho, no matter his initial convictions, cannot bear to be without his pet and steals the goat back. Too naïve to know how to scam somebody, though, he leaves the money back at the buyer's doorstep. He's a nice, cute kid and The Eighth Color of the Rainbow is a nice, cute movie, but neither one does very much for me.
Tangara tries hard for a style reminiscent of neorealism and gets it in the scenes of rural and city life. These are filmed on the streets and feel very authentic. He might have been more successful, however, if he had a better actor in the lead role. I'm sure that Diego Borges is trying his best, and I don't mean to criticize an eleven-year-old's attempts, but it is one of the most heavily coached performances I've ever seen. Where everybody else is speaking normally, Borges yells out his lines and enunciating every syllable very dramatically. Though it's good to hear every line of dialog he speaks, it's incredibly jarring and takes the viewer right out of the story. Tangara does fill the film with beautiful vistas of the city, but it's not enough to save this formulaic, but otherwise harmless, coming of age film.
Cinema Epoch's release of The Eighth Color of the Rainbow is just as dull, but just as harmless, as the film itself. The picture, while not anamorphic, looks sharp and clean. Scenes have good saturation that do well showing the brightly colored town and the varieties of architecture, but the unenhanced image is very disappointing. The sound is decent for a mono track, but how much can one channel really do? The dialog comes through clearly (especially from Diego Borges) and the varied soundtrack, spanning classical, bossanova, and Brazilian metal gods Sepultura, sounds as good as it possibly can. There are no extras. Cinema Epoch went through the motions on this one.
There's not a lot to dislike about the The Eighth Color of the Rainbow, but there's not a lot to like about it either. It looks pretty and, for those who like the coming of age film in general, will work very well for them. However. it's quite forgettable and makes no effort to push the envelope in any way.
Guilty, but it's too mild to punish. Case dismissed.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Cinema Epoch
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