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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.
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on 5 February 2009
Surrounded by a magical Uruguayan countryside, the citizens of Melo prepare for a miraculous chance to lift their heads above grinding poverty. Their dreams are simple: to pay for a daughter's technical training, buy the father a second-hand motorcycle, and for the wife, not starch for her work, but something just to enjoy. The purveyor of this miracle is Pope John Paul II, who will visit the town and speak to the faithful, many of whom are expected to arrive from neighbouring Brazil. To achieve their objective these hard-working men and woman must contend with corrupt customs agents, greedy merchants, and their own weaknesses and naive dreams. Their strengths are dignity, true friends, family and ambition. When reminded that there has never been a rich black man in Melo, a toothless black smuggler confidently retorts, "Yo voy a ser pobre, pero con plata" (roughly translated, "I will always be poor, but I intend to be comfortably poor"). The actors are charming, the photography is stunning and the film's story and mood are authentic. A joyous and optimistic film.
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on 8 March 2016
The product was conform.
As for the film itself, it is purely subjective but I must say it is really nice to Watch, and interesting for anyone, I believe. I love this kind of movie which teaches me things. I recommend it!
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on 28 September 2010
El baño del Papa (César Charlone and Enrique Fernández, 2007) is a mixed delight. The cover of the dvd showing the protagonist's arms aloft suggests that you have a feel-good movie in store. So too do the cover reviews. However, this is not so. It tells the story of an impoverished village on the border town of Melo in Urugauy whose inhabitants hope to profit from the Pope's visit. Focusing on the story of one entrepreneurial character, Beto, and his family the film traces their hopes for the pontiff's visit and the money that they hope will come from the pilgrims that should accompany him. The acting is exemplary. It is a bittersweet tale of struggle against adversity. Oftentimes the music tries to create a more upbeat mood than the visual's suggest, which can be confusing, at best. This is not a happy tale, but a well told one for the most part.
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on 7 December 2011
The right - understated - feel to this film straight from the off.

Smuggling contraband across the border from Brazil back into Uruguay on a pushbike. Trying not to get caught by the custom patrol. Trying to make an honest dishonest living to provide for your impoverished family. The life and lot of the rural poor.

And His Holiness is coming. So how to fleece the thousands of Brazilians bound to be flocking over: lets make piles of pate, and bucket loads of mate. And after you've eaten and drunk all of that what have you got to do? Yes, you need to go. So lets make a loo. Such is Beto's little - but expensive - idea.

There's a down-to-earth veritie roughness about this film: salty dialogue, cheeky smiles; hand held cameras running along with the bikes. Nearly all the acting is from locals being their ordinary usual selves. In other words it doesn't look like "performing".

Of course, just like poor, painful, - actual - life, things don't eventually get better or miraculously transform. Hardly a penny gets spent.

It'll be back to pushing that bike along the dusty dirt tracks, loaded down like a donkey, hoping to sneak by the border patrol again, praying not to get caught. (Don't bother praying amigo. It gets you nada)

I was charmed by this film. In a wry kind of way. And felt a bit sad also. For Beto and Co. For myself. At all this struggle to survive we do.
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on 19 August 2014
A heartbreaking, gentle and cruel comedy about the previous Pope's visit to a small town in Uruguay. Great script and filming with a plot that says a lot about the pretensions and contradictions of the Church and the vulnerability and strength of spirit of the poor with a light touch. One of the best.
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on 4 September 2011
A rich, beautiful film with an unusual storyline, intelligently handled. At times it is quietly humorous whilst being infused with poignant, painful moments as it depicts life in a Uruguayan town. Brilliant and understated acting ensures that all the characters are believable. They serve to illuminate the issue of human dignity and the challenges, hopes and dreams of a small community. I can see why it won several film awards. Thoroughly recommended if you enjoy world cinema.
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VINE VOICEon 19 June 2009
Lovely film - not as good as Bombon el Pero, but in the same vein. Struggling family, pope due to visit becomes an opportunity to make desperately needed money. No Hollywood endings here, just a good story beautifully filmed and an insight on how families manage to survive in a part of the world I know nothing about.
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on 6 September 2010
This is a great film and has many humorous and tragic moments. Just the film to watch when the Pope comes to the UK and you need the toilet!
Terrific acting and superb humour.
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on 25 June 2013
I ordered this dvd for Christmas and it arrived really quickly, excellent price as it was new and sealed. Would use again, thank you.
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