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High expectations in a small Uruguayan town
on 25 January 2009
The inspiration for this film was a real visit made by Pope John Paul II on 8 May 1988 to the small Uruguayan town of Melo, 60 km from the Brazilian border. The film spotlights, with liberal doses of humour, how difficult life is for the impoverished community. Of particular significance is the fact that some men cycle the 120-km round-trip to the nearest Brazilian town, stocking up on goods which are partly for their own use but mainly for resale to their local shops. On cycling home, they try desperately to avoid the attentions of the corrupt, brutish customs officers by using field tracks to bypass the main border crossing.
News of the Pope's impending visit encourages the townsfolk to devise ways of making a quick buck on the day of the visit. As the day draws near, estimates of the numbers of visitors escalate. Whilst most people decide to prepare food for the anticipated hordes, the central character, Beto, hits upon the idea of constructing a quality toilet, for which he will charge entry...
This film is a big tension-builder: for about 80% of the time we're wondering exactly what will happen on 8 May (and of course I'm not going to tell you!). Though you'd have to say it's a bitter-sweet film, you'll spend plenty of the 90 minutes laughing - there's a strong feelgood factor. The film uses a mixture of known and unknown actors. It is totally engaging, with no boring moments at all: thoroughly good entertainment and warmly recommended.
Footnote: the film is in Spanish with English subtitles. Don't expect to understand too much of the Spanish unless you're a native speaker.