Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fernanda Montenegro in Central Station

Fernanda Montenegro became the first Brazilian actress ever to be nominated for an Academy Award and she was the dark horse to win the award. In Central Station she plays Dora, the lonely, retired schoolteacher who writes letters for illiterate people, but never sends them. Once she meets a woman whose letter she also does not post, however when the woman dies she feels guilty and helps her son find his father he's never seen.

Central Station is a moving, beautiful movie about the friendship of an aging woman and a little boy. We can say that it's a road-movie, however we don't get to know the country, the movie rather focuses on their relationship, starting from dislike, ending in a beautiful friendship. This movie definitely desereved Best Foreign Language Film, which is probably the category where the Academy makes its worst decisions nowadays. The actors give truly honest, loveable performances, which is very rare. They benefit a lot from the realistic and precise screenplay. And I must also add how beautiful the score is.

Fernanda Montenegro is on a whole different level though. It takes a very special not English-speaking performance to be nominated for an Oscar (in 1999 they were in the right mood as Roberto Benigni won for his Italian-speaking overacting in Life is Beautiful) and Montenegro does not only give a very special performance, she simply blows you away with her emotional honesty and she's brutally realistic, especially in the scenes where she tries to hold the truck driver's hands (and in the scene which comes afterwards), she's so indescribably heartbreaking, that you'll never see something so realistic in an American movie.

When we first see her, we immediately think that she's a grumpy old spinster, but she adds real depth to her cahracter. Unlike Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth, she did not have the most baity role, yet she was able to show just as much strength. Dora is a very simple woman, but we can see that she longs for a better life, she wants to be young again. The weight of her regrets is so heavy that the screen nearly blows and so does your heart when you see her. She's not loveable at all, yet we feel immediate sympathy for her and we root for her and care about what happens to her.

I must also add that her scenes with the little boy, Josué are far from soappy or sentimental, they are all very lovely, humorous and realistic. Their chemistry is brilliant and they work miraculously well together. They have the most unusual friendship and conversations full of humor and love. They do well with the comedy inside this heavy and harrowing drama (for example I loved the hliarious shoplifting scene or when they talk about sleeping naked). Montenegro deals with everything in this part with brilliance, great subtlety and dignity. She makes us understand that Dora is esentially a good and caring person, she's just doing inapproriate things because of money. And I almost forgot to tell about brilliance when she's talking about her father and their relationship. Those scenes are probably the highlights of her performance. Not to mention when she reads a letter to Josué's family. At one point, I almost broke down from her gutwrenching greatness.

I have so much to say, but this performance is so indescribable as it relies mostly on emotions, so you cannot really get it across unfortunately. I thought that it would not impress me that much but I was truly wrong. She does not only break your heart and makes you feel sorry for the character, but also lets you know the regrets, desires, thoughts of this person. She lets you in her mind and you don't want to leave her. Totally mesmerizing, beautiful performance for the ages.

This rating seems so low for her, but whatsoever. :)

If you want to see a surprise, just click here.

So what did you feel about Montenegro? Do you agree with me? I'm greedy today so I would like to see MANY comments. What are your predictions for the final outcome?


Fritz said...

Hm, my prediction:

1. Fernanda Montenegro

2. Cate Blanchett

3. Emily Watson

4. Gwyneth Paltrow

5. Meryl Streep

This would be almost like mine except that I have Cate at 1 and Fernanda at 2.

dinasztie said...

This prediction makes sense.(: But you'll see.

Louis Morgan said...

She will probably win. I have not seen her though.