Brazilian comedy is infectious

Mark Hornberger

This week the Cultural Film and Lecture Series will be screening the Brazilian comedy “Me You Them.”  This 2000 film centers on the trials, tribulations and joys of a peasant woman, Dona Darlene, played by Brazilian superstar Regina Casé. Darlene, who is beautiful in an earth mother kind of way, is poor, pregnant and has been left at the altar. However, she never gives up her desire to live a happy and fulfilling life … no matter how many men she has to go through.  

The movie presents us with a vibrant portrait of this spirited heroine – she’s loosely based on a real-life woman – and her extended family.  When we first meet Darlene, she has set out to create a better life for herself and her soon-to-be-born child.  After some time Darlene returns to her native village for her mother’s funeral with the child, but without a husband.  In order to subsist, Darlene agrees to marry a grouchy, old bachelor, whose affections for Darlene do not extend past the free labor she is able to provide. Despite having her husband treat her like a maid, Darlene keeps her chin up and continues searching for love and happiness.

“Me You Them” was directed by Andrucha Waddington, who began his film career at the age of 18 on the bottom rung of the ladder. That is, he worked side by side with Brazil’s premier actors and directors … serving them coffee. (It may seem funny to us, but I hear coffee is a very big deal in Brazil.)  By his early 20s, Waddington had directed a number of small-scale projects including commercials, music videos, documentaries and one feature film. In 1995 he began pre-production on “Me You Them.”  Now, at just 30 years old, Waddington is one of Brazil’s premier filmmakers.

The film is shot in a remote region of northeast Brazil. Although the area is poverty stricken, the landscape is desolate and haunting, and the people there are very proud. Waddington researched this film for four years prior to shooting to be sure to capture landscapes.  In fact, he often shows characters in wide shots in order to showcase their picturesque surroundings.

You have four chances to see “Me You Them” in the Connelly Center Cinema: Saturday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 5 at 3:30 and 7 p.m., Monday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. Admission is $3 for students. Monday evening’s screening will feature an introduction and a discussion, led by Desmond Ryan. Ryan was a film critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer for more than 25 years, and is now their chief theater critic.