In the poverty of 1930s Lapa, the sordidly bohemian district of Rio de Janeiro, Joao Francisco (Lazaro Ramos) lives life to the full, a homosexual with seven adopted children and a fiery temper, backed up by fighting skills. His life is a series of confrontations as his pride collides with society. When one such collision ends in a shooting, Francisco is jailed for a decade. When he is freed, he returns to Lapa, throwing himself into the carnivals, and winning awards for his creation of a character from a Cecil B. de Mille film - Madame Satan.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Primitive life forces erupt from 'this depraved stinking world' as Joao Francisco (Lazaro Ramos) the man who reinvented himself after a fiery life as Madame Sata paints it, and fuse with the subject of this film, Joao himself.
The hint of nostalgia in the tinted lighting, the scenes often underlit, and the classic camera angles and moves, all add to our visceral experience of the film, its tones and its faces stirring up moods and feelings that are whipped along by the dialogue. The strange beat of the Portuguese language, the raw setting in a world not only removed in time but culturally and geographically, and the hot, sweaty homosexual sex provide much traction for this biopic.
Lapa, a district in the Rio of the 30s, is strangely reminiscent of Berlin of the same era, its decadence and its explosive emancipation from social strictures, provides a pulsing backdrop for the story of people in constant transition. Sometime from peace to anger, or statis to kinesis.
The film is as tempestuous as its subject, avoiding conventional story telling for a series of searing scenes charged with passion, anger, love and a vibrant surrender to life's hedonistic pleasures.
The film deals with a slice of his life, and the final moments of the film compress the final years of his life in a summary related by text. Otherwise, the film is vibrant and engaging, though not for those easily offended. There's a touch of irony for you ....
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MADAME SATA (MA)
CAST: Lázaro Ramos, Marcelia Cartaxo, Flavio Bauraqui, Fellipe Marques, Emiliano Queiroz, Renata Sorrah
PRODUCER: Marc Beauchamps, Isabel Diegues, Vincent Maraval, Mauricio Andrade Ramos, Donald Ranvaud, Juliette Renaud, Walter Salles
DIRECTOR: Karim Ainouz
SCRIPT: Karim Ainouz, Marcelo Gomes, Sérgio Machado
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Walter Carvalho
EDITOR: Isabela Monteiro de Castro
MUSIC: Sacha Amback, Marcos Suzano
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Marcos Pedroso
RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney - March 24; Melbourne - April 14, 2005