A brutal crackdown on left-wing dissidents by Brazil’s new military dictatorship hardly registers in a country preoccupied with the 1970 World Cup championship. Before 12-year-old Mauro’s radical parents go into hiding, they hastily arrange for their son to stay with his estranged grandfather in another city. Unbeknownst to them, the old man has died, and Mauro (Michel Joelsas) finds himself alone in an alien environment where people speak an indecipherable language called Yiddish. United by a shared passion for all things Pelé, Mauro slowly makes friends in the ethnically diverse neighborhood and develops a bond with the old man next-door. Directed by Cao Hamburger, this warmly engaging film benefits from its understated approach (it suggests rather than spells out the political turmoil), and its light, comedic tone never mitigates the drama of the central story.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 5, 2008