It's every kid's nightmare to be left alone in the world, and that is exactly what happens to Cristiane (Maria Luiza Tavares), the teenager left out by the side of the road in Brazilian director Marcelo Lordello's debut feature. Let out of the family car as punishment for a sibling quarrel with her brother Peu (Georgio Kokkosi), Cris is left to fend for herself after the parents fail to come back and Peu goes in search of them; with no money and her cellphone dead, she will have to find her way back through a landscape she doesn't really know - that of the Brazilian rural poor she had never truly been exposed to and on whose kindness she must now rely.

     While the class angle that is crucial to modern-day Brazil is an obvious element of Mr. Lordello's story - suggesting a complementary film to Kleber Mendonça Filho's acclaimed O Som ao Redor/Neighboring Sounds - the director doesn't push it too obviously, preferring to gently let us discover it as Cris herself discovers it. In Ms. Tavares' delicate performance, he makes us feel her fear and suspicion of those around them, and makes us understand why she would always seem to be cross at the world. But Cris is not only afraid, she is also curious and intrigued by what she finds outside of her bubble; in a way, she has been thrown into a limbo, away from her world but lost in another she does not belong to nor quite understands, where she has the time and the possibility to look at things anew and think about them differently. That limbo is what Mr. Lordello so elegantly creates with help from Ivo Lopes Araújo's sensitive cinematography and Eduardo Serrano's attentive editing. He allows both his character and his viewers the time and space to understand that Eles Voltam is more than just a tale of a spoilt brat confronted to a real world she had no idea of and often showed no interest in; it is also a coming-of-age tale of someone learning the hard way what growing up entails.

     As the film moves forward and Cris finds her way back to Recife, learning in the process the real reason why her parents never came back, she begins chafing at the upper-class cocoon she finds herself in and slowly gains a new appreciation for self-reliance. In a way, Eles Voltam is about finding something that was never lost in the first place.

Cast: Maria Luiza Tavares
Director and writer: Marcelo Lordello
Cinematography: Ivo Lopes Araújo (colour)
Music: Rodrigo Caçapa
Art director: Iomana Rocha
Costumes: Caroline Oliveira
Editor: Eduardo Serrano
Production: Trincheira Filmes in co-production with D7 Filmes and Plano 9 Produções
Brazil, 2012, 105 minutes

Screened: IndieLisboa Film Festival 2013 official competition advance streaming screener, Lisbon, April 20th 2013

ELES VOLTAM TRAILER from Trincheira Filmes on Vimeo.


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