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With: Fernanda Torres, Fernando Alves Pinto, Alexandre Borges, Luís Melo, Laura Cardoso, Tchéky Karyo
Written by: Marcos Bernstein, Millor Fernandes, Walter Salles, Millor Fernandes
Directed by: Walter Salles, Daniela Thomas
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Portuguese, with English subtitles
Running Time: 110
Date: 09/05/1996

Foreign Land (1996)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Classy Pulp

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Some crime movies can be called "classy", such as Bonnie and Clyde, and others can be called "pulp", such as, well... Pulp Fiction. Foreign Land falls somewhere in-between.

Co-directed by Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas from Portugal and Brazil, the film begins slowly. We are shown a title explaining that in 1990, the newly-elected president of Brazil froze everyone's bank accounts. We see a few seemingly unconnected folks, Paco and his mother, and Alex and her junkie trumpet player boyfriend, dealing with everyday life. It begins to feel like a social commentary-character study kind of film. Then, Alex's boyfriend gets ahold of some hot diamonds and Paco's mother dies. And the film takes a turn.

It's difficult to say if Foreign Land will be picked up for distribution in the U.S., but, just in case, I don't want to give anything away. But, as you might guess, Paco and Alex will meet, and when they do, all hell breaks loose.

The movie has its own pace. It neither rushes nor drags. Although the plot may seem familiar, the tone of the movie is fresh. It's shot in grimy black and white, and you get a feel for the streets and rooms in the movie; it's not sterile. It has a great feel to it.

The lead performers, Fernanda Torres as Alex and Fernando Alves Pinto as Paco, are very good. Torres is a stunningly beautiful Brazilian woman, and we come to see her on her own terms, not like those of a Hollywood starlet. The pair have a sex scene in which we see all of Alex, but nothing more of Paco than his lips. I always thought that America was the only country that had hang ups about sex.

Foreign Land has girls, guns, jazz, diamonds, drugs, good guys, bad guys, chases, and escapes, but feels refreshingly new. I hope more folks get a chance to see it.

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