From Beginning To End

From Beginning To End


Reviewed by: James Benefield

Eyebrows will be raised in response to this Brazillian drama about the arresting youth and young manhood of two half-brothers.

The brothers, Thomas and Francisco, grow up in a middle-class household, where their mother (Julia Lemmertz) is a doctor and their father (Fabio Assuncao) drives a convertible. It's an idyllic childhood; the family have their own swimming pool, go abroad and the boys are blessed with doting parents. However, after one of the brothers fractures his tibia, an unusual bond begins to develop between the two.

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Then we get to the crux of matters - if you're averse to slight spoilers, or of a nervous disposition, look away now and skip to the end. After a relatively lengthy introductory act chronicling this childhood, we fast forward 15 years to their mother's funeral. On the night of the funeral, we see the boys (now played by Rafael Cardoso and Joao Gabriel Vasconcellos) go to bed with one another. Much of the film's second half is devoted to their love and challenges their relationship endures as their careers take them in separate directions and continents.

Geography seems the only barrier here, as we lurch into increasingly soft core skin flick territory. Little is mentioned about the implications, morality or other people's views of the brothers' relationship. An extraordinary plot development is handled in a dreamy, detached way. As we disappear into a glossy fantasy which outglosses a Hollywood rom-com, what unfolds in no way resembles the real world. Impossibly attractive, resembling underwear models and ridiculously in love, the pair do nothing but smile and frolick in the bedroom and in the sea.

So with a good helping of petroleum jelly on the lens and some saccharine piano and string arrangements we get a film which washes over the viewer until the point where the tone transcends the immoral into the amoral. And, for brief moments, it kind of works.

That said, when drama enters the frame in the final 15 minutes, the film unbalances itself and becomes unstuck. Somewhere between the slightly dull first 40 minutes, and the head-smackingly stupid final reel, it's briefly a heady, sensual and amoral guilty pleasure. In terms of tone and acting, nothing is balanced and everything is, in its own way, a little crazed, but if that floats your boat, you could probably do a lot worse.

Reviewed on: 08 Jul 2011
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Two half-brothers form an unusual bond.
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