VIPS - An Anti-Hero For Our TimesOctober 13, 2011
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: VIPS (Focus World).
So much larger than life, but it’s all true…an Anti-Hero for our times
By Cynthia Kane
Ever heard of THE ELITE SQUAD or THE ELITE SQUAD 2, two of the most all-time internationally successful films from Brazil? They have little to do with VIPS except for the fact that all three Brazilian films star the indefatigable, charismatic (and adorable) Wagner Moura.
This kid’s career’s going skyward,
just like his character in VIPS,
a film about one of the real-life top con artists of the century,
Marcelo Nascimento da Rocha.
Wagner Moura / VIPS (Focus World)
Moura plays this man, this Marcelo, who at various points in his life has been a police detective, a scout for the Brazilian national football team, a pilot, a pilot and a smuggler, the heir to the national airline, an international ji-hitsu champion, an music industry agent, and more, more, more.
This film focuses on his early years and his rise as a superb impersonator and con-artist. Like Steven Spielberg’s COME FLY WITH ME and like Leonardo di Caprios’s character, Frank Abganale, Jr, VIPS makes you delight in society being fooled, in the underdog getting away with criminal activity, but in a distorted kind of “Robin Hood” way... sort of. Both Moura and DiCaprio have that boyish, winning quality, a smile that makes you melt, a way of making you forgive their outrageous ability to lie and get away with it...most of the time. Both these films deal with bigger-than-life stories, but stories you can’t just make it - and maybe most of us wish we’d have that same chutzpah to get away with something, anything in our dull, everyday lives.
The story sets off when young Marcelo has had it with the torment he’s been taking in school and finds a way to embrace his classmates through impersonation. At night he dreams of his pilot father, a father who may or may not have ever existed or is simply a figment of his vivid fantasy world and energetic imagination. But on his mother’s hairdressing salary, there’s no money to go to flight school. This obviously doesn’t stop Marcelo. He makes it to a small airfield far from home in Sao Paolo where he’s soon bored stiff washing small crop-dusting planes and one day just takes off…flying.
As punishment, he’s dropped near the Brazilian-Paraguayan border where he gets to fly for a real job… and smuggle drugs for a big-time gang member. He takes on the name “Carrera” and becomes a favorite among the contrabandos – and no one seems to mind one bit that he’s got no pilot’s license. When he’s threatened by the cops and refuses to talk, he’s rewarded by the boss and sent home. But while it’s good to see Mom, it’s not the high life and soon Marcelo chomping to reinvent himself once again.
We next meet him flying in via helicopter to a fab, glam party where he purports to be the head of Gol Airlines (big Brazilian airline) brother and he starts enjoying the royal treatment. Celebrities want to know him, he’s the star and life of the party. Now he goes by Henrique Constantino. His con-game turns on him when he sleeps with a older and fragile VIP who actually knows the Constantino Brothers… or does it? Let’s just say it’s a good thing he knows how to fly.
Aye! the film ends too fast - ! Maybe director Toniko Melo’s thinking, “Sequel?” Let’s hope so.
Stylish, hip, VIPS won top awards at the 2010 Rio de Janiero Film Festival. It’s traveled on the circuit of Brazilian Film Festivals across the globe and again won top prizes at the Miami Brazilian Film Festival as well as others.
Wagner Moura / VIPS (Focus World)
One thing, though is true, we’ll be seeing a lot more of Wagner Moura. I am hoping though instead of being an import into American films, he brings along Brazilian cinema with him. We just don’t get enough of it.
- Cynthia Kane
Cynthia Kane reviews documentaries for On Demand Weekly. She is a writer and Sr Programming Manager for [ ITVS], overseeing the International Initiative for funding in their SF office. Prior she’s had many incarnations from actor to writer to producer. She co-created DOCday on Sundance Channel.
Look for VIPS (Focus World) under your cable system's On Demand section.
Read Other Reviews By Cynthia Kane:
Thomas Vinterberg's SUBMARINO - DEMAND IT
Michelle Williams In MEEK'S CUTOFF - DEMAND IT
Vincent Gallo Is Back With ESSENTIAL KILLING - DEMAND IT
GRAVE ENCOUNTERS - DEMAND IT
ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM - DEMAND IT
DEAR ALICE - DEMAND IT
KAREN CRIES ON THE BUS - DEMAND IT