Loosely based on legendary Brasilia rock band Legiao Urbana’s seminal folk song, René Sampaio’s lyrical, fable-like debut feature follows a young man from the provinces who decides to try his luck in the capital, where he falls in with a rough crowd — and falls for a senator’s daughter.
Contemporary World Cinema
Réne Sampaio's lyrical debut feature tells the story of João Santo Cristo (Fabrício Boliveira), a young man from the provinces who decides to try his luck in the capital. Loosely based on "Faroeste Caboclo", the epic folk ballad by the legendary Brasília rock band Legião Urbana, Brazilian Western brings to life the memorable characters of this popular song, set against the backdrop of Brasília's diverse urban spaces — a one-of-a-kind metropolis that constitutes a character in its own right.
João was brought up in a culture of racism, and has already done time in jail for killing the cop who murdered his father. Upon release, João heads for Brasília, where a distant cousin from Argentina helps him get a start as a carpenter's apprentice — on the condition that he also accepts a sideline as a drug dealer. When João meets architectural student Maria Lúcia (Isis Valverde), the daughter of a senator, the two fall madly in love. She wants him to stop dealing, but Jeremiah, João's rival in both love and trafficking, ensures that João has no hope but to stay in the game — and Jeremiah has a horde of crooked cops on his side to help him.
Sampaio faithfully recreates 1980s-era
Brasília, representing Oscar Niemeyer's resplendent architecture on one hand and
the city's outlying shantytowns on the
other. A realization of a lifelong dream —
Sampaio has wanted to interpret "Faroeste
Caboclo" since first hearing the song back
in 1987 — this tale of a doomed love triangle
transports us to an exotic recent past — and
puts the director's home city on the cinematic