As 2021 comes to an end (thank God), so does WORLD CINEMA (boooo!). And because I’ve spent the past few weeks in my home country for the holidays, that’s exactly where I’m taking the last WORLD CINEMA: we go over to Portugal and Manoel de Oliveira’s debut film, Aniki-Bóbó.
Aniki-Bóbó concerns the lives of a group of kids living in the working class streets of Porto, with a love triangle as its main focus: Carlitos (Horácio Silva) is in love with Teresinha (Fernanda Matos), who is also being courted by Eduardo (António Santos), which leads to, obviously, mayhem.
Set in Manoel de Oliveira’s hometown, Porto is the perfect backdrop for a film that, despite its simplistic plot, is made great by the execution. A sort of precursor to Italian neo-realism, Aniki-Bóbó is charming, sweet and humorous, with a touch of social commentary that is only to be expected. One of the most interesting things about it is that, like so many European films of that time, Aniki-Bóbó‘s main players are children, with their lives, loves and woes taking center stage, dealt with in a serious manner. The plot revolves around them, with the adults being supporting characters that ultimately put the kids’ plot into context and create a kind of conflict that is wonderfully resolved in a rather cute way by the film’s third act. Because of this, Aniki–Bóbó‘s charms are a breath of fresh air, its sense of wonder and innocence something that was rather bold for a debut feature.
And from debut feature to swan song, it is with Aniki-Bóbó that we bid farewell to WORLD CINEMA and 2021. Hope to see you in the new year, when I’ll be debuting a brand new series. Happy New Year!