Starring: Claudia Abreu and Wagner Moura
Studio: Film Movement Series
Video: Enhanced for Widescreen 16:9
Audio: 5.1 Surround
Extras: Biographies of Cast, Short Film: Brin’s Hill, The Ecology of Love
Length: 86 minutes
an early scene from “Middle of the World” the first feature film by
director Vicente Amorin, a crying infant, alone and temporarily
separated from his family, faces a terrifying death as a semi-truck
barrels down the road towards him.
youngster survives unharmed–the scene is equally frightening and
effective– though his near tragic fate underscores the seemingly
impossible journey his family has begun. His father Romao, (Moura) a
poor but determined young man has set out to change the grim
circumstances for himself and his large family of seven. Romao feels
destiny is calling him to Rio De Janeiro, where in his mind, a secure
job of 1000 reals ($300.00/month) awaits him.
So, he leads the entire lot, including his infant child, on a grueling
bicycle trip down the back roads of Brazil, south to Rio. It is
exhausting journey and based on a real story.
Both Moura and Abrue, playing Rose, his wife, give credible
performances as the husband and wife struggling to achieve a better
life. Tension ensues when Rose suggests the family would be better off
at a village where she can earn some money as a weaver. Romao’s devout
faith that a more plentiful future lies ahead, 3000 miles away in Rio,
pushes him on. Rose and the children trudge along.
Another bright light in the film is the gutsy acting of the character
Antonio (Ravi Ravos Lacerdo) who portrays Romao’s oldest son. Full of
teen angst and rebellion, Antonio clashes with his authoritarian
father, wishing at times to break away from the family’s arduous and
debilitating bike trip. Antonio’s desire to live as other teenager
would, to meet girls and live independently, casts him apart from the
journey, at least for a while.
Middle of the Road involves an intriguing story line with honest and
emotionally charged performances by it’s lead players. However,
director Amorim leaves out key elements which might make the film
worthy of high praise. More details about the plight of the family, how
they survived, how the father motivated the wife and family to keep
going are missing. The ending brings little or no resolution to the
family’s several month long struggle, and this is a big disappointment
to a film which seems to demand a satisfying conclusion.
Picture quality is first-rate and showcases the landscape of Brazil’s
wide-open terrain. The DVD contains a short film extra called “The
Ecology of Love” by Brin Hill. The amount of word space to allocate to
this small dream sequence montage can be boiled down to two words: skip