‘Goodbye, Momo’


A PSA trying to pass for Fellini—the credits thank the late master by name and the score references 8 1/2—Leonardo Ricagni’s new film features a young illiterate, Obdulio, who must learn to read in order to save the Uruguayan carnaval. On its own, the carnaval shows promise: Unlike Brazil, which gluts itself for a mere week, Uruguay matches Lent with 40 days of drunkenness; the danger, as in La Strada, isn’t so much self-indulgence as boredom. Too bad Momo looks past that premise to give us one heartwarming cliché after another: the illiterate orphan who hawks newspapers he can’t read, the old bartender who badgers him to quit soccer and go to school, and the mysterious mentor who inspires Obdulio to write the songs that save the exhausted revelers. Though Momo is dedicated to “the missing children and the children who are coming to save the world,” the most provocative question it asks is whether, with its conspicuous product placement, the film was secretly backed by Coca-Cola.