Customer Review

46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Between brothers, 17 Nov 2010
This review is from: From Beginning to End [DVD] (DVD)
DO COMEÇO AO FIM ('From Beginning to End'), narrated in voice-over by Thomás, the younger of two brothers, is an engaging portrayal of the lifelong powerful bond between himself and his older brother, Francisco. (Although nowhere acknowledged, it is difficult not to think that this film was inspired by Augustin Gomez-Arcos's sublime novel, Carnivorous Lamb.)

The first third of DO COMEÇO AO FIM focuses on the tenderness of the brothers' early lives, when Francisco is 12-years-old and Thomás 6. The two are actually half-brothers; they live with their mother in Brazil, but Francisco's father lives in Argentina. Despite this marital restructuring, the mother and father remain on good terms, and the portrait is one of a deeply loving and affectionate family. Nowhere is this more evident than between the brothers...

Francisco adores and protects the younger Thomás, while the latter idolises the former. Their mother senses the intimacy that already exists between them, which perhaps accounts for her wistful (yet accepting) sadness towards a love from which she will forever be excluded. Francisco's father in Argentina, too, suspects that their relationship is "too intimate"; in response to his suggestion that they talk to the boys, their mother responds: "I don't know exactly what they are doing... But we cannot tell them it is a bad thing." Refreshing, indeed.

The film jumps ahead fifteen years; both their mother and Francisco's father have died, and the brothers, now in their 20s, continue to live together - their love, affection and physicality undiminished. ("I love you because to understand our love, [people] would need to turn the world upside down.") The (perhaps inevitable) dramatic rupture arises when Thomás is invited to move to Russia for three years, to train as a swimmer for the Olympics. Bereft, Francisco turns to clubbing, and meets a woman who appears likely to create a permanent rift in his relationship with Thomás.

Strong production values and a genuinely superb musical score perfectly round off this unusual love story from writer/director Aluisio Abranches. If there is one hesitation, it is that the film largely avoids anything dark or gritty: the characters are all wealthy, tanned and handsome, and they face few challenges along the way. Indeed, the bold, warm colours of DO COMEÇO AO FIM's sumptuous cinematography seem calculated to present Thomás and Francisco's relationship in an almost idealised, fantasy setting. While this absence of provocation borders tepidly on the artificial, and would usually be cause for frustration, perhaps in the context of this culturally-neglected theme it simply allows the viewer to revel in its carefree sensuality. Highly recommended.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Dec 2010 21:43:50 GMT
How marvelous that you know and, obviously love, "The Lamb" (if I may). Now, in response to this review of yours, I am very much looking forward to purchasing the DVD. Your comments and those of David Hall have certainly reinforced my decision to do so.

At this point, let me recommend a relatively new DVD release Undertow (Contracorriente) [DVD] [2009] which I believe you will very much like. I have reviewed it here on Amazon.com/UK, under the review title "Faggots & Ghosts....." I have many other reviews at Amazon.com/US, some of which might interest you. Oh, and I can honestly say, after reading through many of your film reviews, that I concur wholeheartedly with ratings given.

Happy Viewing to you in future.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Dec 2010 12:38:56 GMT
Thanks for your comments; much appreciated. 'The Carnivorous Lamb' is indeed in my top-five all-time favourite novels. There's no doubt that 'From Beginning to End' was inspired by that novel; although apart from the similarity of a few scenes, the book is infinitely more complex. Nonetheless, I'm pleased that director Aluisio Abranches made this film - perhaps the only film to (directly) touch this subject apart from Harry And Max [2003] [DVD].
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