In addition to the possessive Alice, the place is crowded with three strapping sons, a straying husband, and a vision-impaired mother (“Which one of you peed on the toilet lid again?”), not to mention, outside the house, an old flame who happens to be married to Alice’s best customer at the beauty shop. All in all, a densely textured slice of São Paolo life, a little overseasoned, but unadorned, humble, modest, narrow in scope if not ramification, easy to chew and to swallow. (The director, Chico Teixeira, is a past documentarist in his fictional debut.) Each of the family members marks out an independent life, and Carla Ribas in the title role makes a sterling representative of womanly maturity not yet disfigured by cosmetic surgery, an all but unimaginable being in contemporary American cinema. None of the family members, what’s more, brings us into contact with a ripped-from-the-headlines social problem, as in the more typical Brazilian import like City of God or City of Men. They bring us merely into contact with the sort of middle-class domestic unit that might scan those headlines over breakfast. The universal sort. (2007) — Duncan Shepherd
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