Heleno (R)

Drama 116 December 7, 2012
By Michael Atkinson
Brazilian soccer demigod Heleno de Freitas comes packing a résumé irresistible to biopic-makers: stunning good looks, unbeatable professional attainment, wish-it-were-me decadence and womanizing all set during the '40s and '50s and heading like a runaway train toward a date with destiny brought on mostly by the vain star's refusal to treat his snowballing syphilis. What we're looking for in movies crafted from celebrity crash-dive life stories is a question worth picking over (are we satisfying our tsk-ing inner Carrie Nation?). Heleno, true to its genre, simply plows ahead, marks the star’s historical calendar from the top of his game to his final dissolution, and stylishly basks in his every bacchanal and bratty act of defiance. The moral might be don't be a dick, but that would just place Heleno alongside 100 other film biographies. More problematic is director Fonseca's attachment to one biopic in particular: Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull, which it rips off in every way imaginable except for the curly coifs. Apparently passionate about ether as well as nooky and whiskey, Heleno (Rodrigo Santoro) is here mostly a two-dimensional playboy with disastrous impulse control. As far as Fonseca is concerned, the hotel-room exploits and juggling a wife and girlfriend (Alinne Moraes and Angie Cepeda) who could be twins are far more crucial than any achievement on the pitch. The testy, narcissistic Heleno scored more than 200 goals in his first 10 years on Brazil’s Botafogo, but in the film we get only a few impressionistic glimpses of the game, as if it were something our Heleno only did occasionally, like on weekends. Finally, we see Heleno's institutionalized last days, driven drooling mad and eventually helpless by the malady he could have so easily cured. That's another moral, I guess: Don't be a dick and get your shots.
José Henrique Fonseca Rodrigo Santoro, Angie Cepeda, Aline Moraes, Othon Bastos, Herson Capri, Orã Figueiredo Fernando Castets, José Henrique Fonseca Beto Bruno, Eliane Ferreira, Fernanda Laignier, Eduardo Pop, Rodrigo Santoro Screen Media Ventures


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