Quase Dois Imaos/ Almost Brothers (2004) is a
historical drama that aims at projecting the lives of two children (one white
and one black) into the recent history of Brazil.
The conclusion is one that has been often heard in European cinema of the
1970s: the leftists who became politicians have trouble remaining faithful
to their roots.
the film is a continuous journey from the present to the past and back.
The discontinuity relents towards the end, bringing to a sudden linearity
the end of the drama.
Miguel, now a successful politician, is driving at night, and remembers his
Miguel and Jorge grew up like brothers, despite the fact that Miguel was
the son of a wealthy white businessman and Jorge was the son of a black poor
musician. Miguel's father believed in the musical talent of Jorge's father and
helped him become a star of samba, and in the process paid a price because
the white community saw him as a madman.
Miguel visits Jorge, who is now a powerful mobster of the slums in jail.
Even in jail, he still controls his business: Miguel hears him order to kill
someone over the cellular phone. Miguel has come to show Jorge a project for
the slums: he needs Jorge's help to have the slums accept it.
In 1970 Miguel was a political prisoner. He was jailed in a maximum security
prison with other political prisoners.
They were treated like animals and abused by the guards.
In the present, Miguel goes to pick up his daughter, who got in trouble
because she hangs out with gangsters of the slums. She accuses her parents
of being racist for being opposed to her escapades in the slums.
IN 1970 Miguel and Jorge were united when Jorge, arrested for common crimes,
was jailed in the same prison with the political prisoners.
He was beaten by racist guards simply for being black.
The convicts created a collective and managed (via Miguel's girlfriend Ana)
to get a letter out in which they denounced the abuses.
They organized a hunger strike that ended with their victory: they were given
more freedom, newspapers and regular clothes.
In the present, Juliana was hanging out in the slums while a punk, Duda, killed
a kid who has disobeyed him, despite the fact that Deley, the man who was
talking with Jorge in jail over the cell phone, had told him not to.
In 1970, Miguel received a visit from Ana who told him that she was leaving
him for a philosopher. Suddenly, Miguel realized that his political struggle
was all he had, for the rest of his life. Jorge helped him survive the shock.
Juliana walks up the stairs of the hilly slum and enters the house of Deley:
she is his girl.
In 1970, one day new prisoners arrived: they were common criminals and did
not care for the rules of the political prisoners. They were blacks, and had
their own gang. Jorge tried to bridge the group of the white politicians and
the black gangsters, but, from the beginning, it was obvious that the blacks
had no political interest, and regarded the white intellectuals as faggots.
As political prisoners were being released, the remaining ones were becoming
a minority in the prison.
Duda's gang kills a shopkeeper who asked them to pay their bill. Then they
tell a child to warn Deley that they are coming to get him. Deley kicks
Juliana out and, when she resists, he insults her. On the way out, Juliana
is attacked by black girls who resent the rich white girl becoming the girl
of a black gangster.
In 1970, Miguel and the political prisoners asked for a separation of
political prisoners and common criminals: a wall was erected to divide
the ward in two, and Jorge was left with the blacks, because the division
was largely along racial lines.
In the present, Miguel leaves Jorge's jail asking him to think it over (his
project to improve the slums).
In the meantime, Deley's and Duda's gangs are battling in the streets, leaving
scores of kids dead on the steps of the hill.
In 1970, Jorge eventually became sick of the gang that was terrorizing the
common prisoners, and took action: he and other black prisoners killed the
members of the gang. It was the beginning of his career as the boss of a gang.
In the present, Juliana heads back for Deley's place. It is carnival time.
As she enters the slums, friends warn her to stay away. She is captured by
Duda's gang and they rape her.
Miguel is driving through the carnival. Jorge is being killed in jail.
Miguel reaches the hospital where his daughter is still unconscious.
All his dreams are falling apart.