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The former schoolteacher - and eternal pragmatist - Dora (Fernanda Montenegro) writes letters for the illiterate on the platform at Rio’s Central Station. One day, a woman and her son walk up to her tiny desk, with an all-too familiar story of a husband and father who is far away and missed. After the boy, Josué (Vinicius de Oliveira) loses his mother in a street accident shortly after, Dora, despite her natural reserve and cynicism, is drawn into Josué’s life – what there is of it – as she becomes a surrogate parent. The two set off, squabbling and finding disappointments on the way, to find Josué’s absent father in the north east of the country, a journey that also changes Dora’s life – what there is of it.

"Overwhelmingly moving, Central Station is a pensive road movie that touches the heart with its integrity, powerful images and stand-out performances. As in Ken Loach's Carla's Song and Pavel Chukhrai's The Thief, the way of life portrayed is integral to the story; the search for belonging and finding one's self. At the very core of this cinematic experience is Fernanda Montenegro's outstanding performance as she creates a very real character whose harsh acceptance of life is made penetrable and vulnerable. Her reserve and façade crumble before our eyes; Montenegro's extraordinary ability to couple harshness with tenderness is displayed with skill and nuance. Vinicius de Oliveira is wonderful as the little boy whose face bares his heart. Walter Salles’ has taken this original concept of how hope, love, need, regret, guilt, desire and a dream can be expressed and to some degree satisfied by the written word; he has made it into a unforgettable drama of emotions. The characters built into the story are instantly accessible. Sure to appeal to lovers of fine art house films, the haunting piano led music score is both melancholic and affecting. The rugged settings, beautifully shot by Walter Carvalho, greatly contrast the hustle bustle of the anonymity of the Central Station in the title. This is a story of an unusual friendship – and one that will stand separated from many before, by its strength and necessity."
Louise Keller

"Through the experiences of a lonely middle aged woman and a young boy, Walter Salles reveals not only the extraordinary within the ordinary of human experience, but gives us a comprehensive glimpse of Brazil itself. We see it both physically and spiritually; both as a place of social conflict and as one of hope and renewal. The film’s central story comes from the displacement of families in search of a better life, especially those from the northeast of Brazil, who flocked in vain to Rio in search of work and success in the 70s. In this regard, Salles is a social historian. The effect that one person can have on another comes from human nature. In this regard, Salles is a filmmaker. Fernanda’s (accolade-heavy) portrayal of Dora is a sumptuous piece of acting, rich in nuance, pain and change. Through the subtle shifts in her approach to life we are encouraged; but Dora is also a symbol of Brazil today, as is young Josué, in search of his father. (This aspect is heightened for those who speak Portuguese, in which the word for father (pai) and country (pais) are almost identical.) But the film works on a purely personal level, too, emotionally engaging and thoroughly satisfying as a story of two isolated human beings bumping into each other, learning much and gaining even more. Here is a genuinely moving film for all those who love cinema and complain bitterly when the mainstream disappoints."
Andrew L. Urban

"What is remarkable about this film, is how intricate it deals with the two central characters, and their exquisitely subtle evolution. Unlike similarly-plotted films from mainstream Hollywood, Central Station isn't interested so much in plot contrivance, but the way in which director Walter Salles carefully constructs sequences, in which these two exquisitely detailed characters mesh and evolve. It's not a frenetic film by any means, but that doesn't matter, because we are mesmerised by the detailed characters and the captivating performances of the actors who bring these lost souls to life. Fernanda Montenegro delivers an eloquent, Oscar-calibre performance as an initially tough-minded, cynical scam artist who learns to rediscover her own humanity through her relationship with an equally cynical Josue, played with intelligence, sensitivity and realism by Vinicius de Oliveira. The two work together with effortless harmony, and their journey becomes one that is wonderful to watch. Beautifully shot and featuring a resonant score by Antonio Pinto, Central Station is a film that deals with issues of dependence and loneliness, yet does so without resorting to undue sentiment. The film's emotional centre is its realism and honesty, a rare combination in contemporary cinema. Central Station is a very special film indeed."
Paul Fischer

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CAST: Fernanda Montenegro, Marilia Pera, Vinicius de Oliveira, Soia Lira, Othon Bastos, Otavio Augusto, Stela Freitas, Matheus Nachtergaele, Caio Junqueria

DIRECTOR: Walter Salles

PRODUCER: Arthur Cohn, Martine de Clermont-Tonnerre

SCRIPT: Joao Emanuel Carneigo, Marcos Bernstein (based on the original idea by Salles)


EDITOR: Isabelle Rathery, Felipe Lacerda

MUSIC: Antonio Pinto, Jaques Morelembaum

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Cassio Amarante, Carla Caffe

RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes



VIDEO RELEASE: December 15, 1999

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista Entertainment

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