Walter Salle’s gritty and heartwarming movie, Central Station is a wonderful depiction of the gritty underworld in Rio de Janeiro as a backdrop for a moving story of love and redemption. Dora, the main character, writes letters for the illiterate in a Brazilian train station…
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But the mother is killed and little Josue hang out around the train station. She knows he will get into trouble, perhaps even be shot for shoplifting, as is the custom in the crime-ridden Rio Central Station. Her better isntincts win her over and she takes the boy home, and sells ho to an adoption agency to make some money. When she realizes that the boy is probably too old to be adopted and many agencies sell such children to the black market for organ harvesting and other devastating things, she decides to steal the child back and takes him in. They then try to locate Josue’s father for reunification. As they go on this journey, her rough exterior melts as she and Josue develop a relationship. She eventually develops the capacity to love, and her maternal instincts take over, as she loves and cares for the boy, as he does for her, as a maternal replacement.
I liked the movie a lot, because it has a message of redemption. Although she has a hardened heart throughout much of the movie, we see the true soul and motherly instincts of Dora, as she and Josue develop a bond as strong as any mother and child. This transformation does not happen quickly, as Dora even tries to abandon Jasue at a bus station as they embark on their quest to find his father. But they stay together and become closer and closer as this journey unfolds.
The grittiness of the many places they go is quite interesting, and lends an air of authenticity to the movie. Although I thought Josue (Vinicius de Oliveira) was cast as too Hollywood “cute,” and not enough of a real Brazilian street urchin, Dora’s portrayal by Fernanda Montenegro is authentic and moving. It is a plot of motherless/fatherless child meets older originally-spurning, then ultimately loving adult, but the twists with the many adventures, the slow development of Dora’s character, and the ultimate love they have for each other was moving. The avoidance of “and they lived happily ever-after” ending was
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