Hopefuls ★★★★

This small Brazilian film about an aspiring soccer player was surprisingly well-done. Filmed in the style of social realism, it focuses on the dreams and ultimately the dashed ambitions of a poor young man (still a teenager actually) who has put all his hopes of escaping a limited future on sports.  Although filmed in the coastal city of Saquarema (not far from Rio), it is universal in depicting the allure of a sports career in spite of the reality that only a select and often lucky few achieve this.

The work of a first-time director (Ives Rosenfeld), it won awards at the Locarno Film Festival, but has not been widely seen.  The young actors playing the lead Junior (Ariclenes Barroso) and his best friend/rival Bento (Sergio Malheros) and his pregnant girlfriend (Julia Bernat) are all quite good, as are the supporting actors.  The film is ultimately quite depressing and is a reminder of the limited options open to those in the underclass.  But it hits the right dramatic note, and is worth watching.

It’s currently available to stream for free through Amazon Prime.