Miami 2020 Review: EDUARDO AND MONICA, A Charming and Charmed Love Ballad

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Miami 2020 Review: EDUARDO AND MONICA, A Charming and Charmed Love Ballad

The how and why of love is one of life's great eternal mysteries. Thousands of books, songs, works of art, films, have been made on the subject, and we're still no closer to an answer. But then, there is no single answer, just whatever makes sense for the people in love. Brazilian director René Sampaio's second feature, Eduardo and Monica, is loosely based on the love ballad of the same name by renowned musicial Renato Russo, released in 1986 (which he said was his homage to Bob Dylan). Two star-crossed lovers who differences far outnumber their similarities, but trying everything they can to make it.

Set in Brasilia in the 1980s, Eduardo (Gabriel Leone) is an almost-17-year-old student who wants to be a civil engineer, loves soap operas, and lives with his grandfather. Monica (Alice Braga) is a mid-20s medical student, political activist and part-time artist who drinks hard, rides a motorcycle. They meet outside a club one night, and after having a few adventures, decide to start dating. While their initial attraction and enjoyment of each other's company is intoxicating, life's difficulties and conflicts start to come between them.

The 1980s setting takes us to a time without emails or cell phones, when Brasil had some political strife. Monica is dedicated to her medical studies, but hopes to get a job in Rio de Jainero; while Eduardo knows he wants to be an engineer, her personality and interests are still forming. Their relationship starts as mainly a physical attraction, but the kindness and reckless abandon both have towards the situation leads them to a deeper love. It is Monica who guides them, enveloping Eduardo in her life and pursuits, though still pushing him to finish his studies. And no doubt, a mature hand in his life guiding him is part of Eduardo's attraction to her - he is very happy to be guided.

Leone and Braga have wonderful chemistry - you never doubt their love, or the pain that comes with that love, for a moment. Nor do they let their characters fall too much into cliché or stereotype. Eduardo might have hints of that teenage boy bravado and lack of self-awareness, but he is kind and caring. Monica might be a rebel, but she understands her responsibilities. But certain bridges can be too difficult to cross: Eduardo's grandfather supports the government, which causes Monica anger; Monica's friends encourage her to follow her dreams to Rio, which angers Eduardo.

No doubt the 80s score, with Brazilian and British pop songs, adds to the film's affable charm. The beats of the story are familiar as a romantic dramedy, but Sampaio and his team build out the story from the song lyrics to understand the world that surrounds the characters; not just in their lives, but the wider scope that affects their behaviour and choices. For those (like myself) who don't know the song, we might have an idea of where the story is going, but it's a charming ride.

We all have love stories in our film collection that might be a bit corny, or sappy, or follow a well-worn path, but they still have wisdom to impart on the wacky and unexplainable nature of love and connection, and proverbial hold us in a warm embrace. The charms of  Eduardo and Monica is reflected in the motorcycle rides they take - exciting, a little dangerous, with a bubble of love and happiness to encircle you.

Eduardo e Mnica

Director(s)
  • René Sampaio
Writer(s)
  • Jessica Candal (final script)
  • Michele Frantz (final script)
  • Renato Russo (story)
  • Claudia Souto (final script)
  • Matheus Souza (final script)
  • Matheus Souza (screenplay)
Cast
  • Alice Braga
  • Gabriel Leone
  • Victor Lamoglia
  • Fabrício Boliveira
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René SampaioJessica CandalMichele FrantzRenato RussoClaudia SoutoMatheus SouzaAlice BragaGabriel LeoneVictor LamogliaFabrício BoliveiraDramaRomance

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