Do Começo ao Fim (English: From Beginning To End) was always going to be a victim of its own hype. The consensus seems to be largely negative, thanks to the perceived lack of insight into the taboo that gets everyone - one way or another - hot under the collar: incest.
Aluizio Abranches' film is a study of two brothers growing up in a comfortably well-off family in Brazil; the mother, a doctor and the father, an artist. We witness the boys - Francisco and Thomás - growing up, from Thomás' birth through until the boys' twenties.
It's slow and meandering, progressively building a picture of an unusually intense bond between the brothers, against a backdrop of some very handsome cinematography, and an impressive musical score. It's subtle, and understated, but a journey nonetheless, and one punctuated with sudden, startling visceral thrills (yes, there is sex and nudity).
"To understand our love," Francisco, the older brother, says at one point, "they'd have to turn the world upside down."
Hugely profound, his words instantly, and almost certainly, renders the entire audience as a pitchfork-wielding mob, à la Frankenstein. It forces those of us who are fuming, sniggering, or otherwise judging to pause and reflect, and begs the question, "Could any of us possibly understand?"
The picture perfect Cosby Show set-up works equally well for the film as it does against it - we, the audience, constantly anticipate the dark forces of an unforgiving outside world tearing their world apart. Much of the film's audience will similarly be wishing for a moral denouement that sets the boys "straight".
But From Beginning To End is a beautiful film, its soul unblemished by self-loathing, unblighted by prejudice, and free from the scars of a world that seeks to beat to a bloody pulp anything it doesn't understand.
Truly unique - and truly misunderstood - this is a beautiful love story, of a depth and intensity few of us will ever experience, let alone comprehend.
As the brothers' mother says, "I don't know exactly what they are doing... But we cannot tell them it is a bad thing." Indeed.