The Year My Parents Went on Vacation
In 1970 Brazil, a boy (Michel Joelsas) is sent to stay with his grandfather while his parents go on “vacation” (actually, they’re political dissidents on the run from the police state). What they don’t know, as they drop the kid off and speed away, is that the old man has died unexpectedly—leaving the boy in the hands of an elderly neighbor and others of Sao Paulo’s Jewish community. Despite the exotic, offbeat setting (on top of everything else, the neighborhood is spellbound as Pele leads Brazil’s team in the World Cup finals), the coming-of-age theme is too blandly familiar, and the movie alternates a glum solemnity with spasms of forced whimsy redolent of warmed-over Fellini. Young Joelsas, a novice actor, is inexpressive and unsympathetic; the supporting cast is (all too briefly) more interesting.