27 December 2005 | jotix100
"Madame Sata" is a movie that depicts a bygone era. This colorful film directed by Karim Ainouz concentrates on the life of a charismatic man who lived an interesting life. We are taken to the Rio of the 1930s to witness the night life that flourished in the bohemian Lapa neighborhood, with its many dives and night clubs where all kinds of people mixed together.
This is the story of Joao, a poor black man who is a homosexual living in a macho dominated society. The film opens as Joao is being processed because of a crime he committed. We watch his face in a close-up where an off camera voice is reading what he did, and then we are taken back to watch his life in flashbacks.
Joao, who is an assistant to a French third rate chanteuse, is seen backstage imitating the singer in his own way, which is much better than what that tired woman does on stage. Joao lives in a household that includes Laurita, a friendly prostitute, and Tabu, a gay man who loves dressing as a woman, even for house work.
This was the era where the movies glorify those larger than life women who inspired gays all over the world to imitate them. Joao feels the attraction and after losing Renatinho, he asks the friendly Amador, who owns a bar in the Lapa district to give him a chance to perform in the style of the great divas of the era. The result is an instant success because of the innate talent in Joao. Alas, tragedy strikes when a loud mouth drunk begins to insult Joao, who decides to take matters into his own hand with dire consequences. In real life, Joao was in and out of prisons all his life.
Lazaro Ramos does a fantastic job portraying this complex man who was ahead of his time. Mr. Ramos is the best excuse for watching this Brazilian film that shows that seedy side of a society condemned to live in poverty and need. Marcelia Cartaxo plays Laurita, a true friend, who stuck by Joao no matter how bad things got. Flavioi Bauraqui is another asset in the film appearing as Tabu, the other member of Joao's household. Fellipe Marques is perfect as Renatinho, the man who loved Joao.
"Madame Sata" offers a nostalgic look at the life in Rio during the 30s and it's based on the true story of the man who was made famous for his originality and contribution to a society that tried to keep him away from mixing with them. This is a great directing job by Karim Ainouz, who with the writer, Marcelo Gomes, takes the viewer to a magical ride to the exotic life of that long gone Brazil.