Walking out of the cinema I tried to work out exactly what it was that made me dislike Man Of The Year (O Homem De Ano) so much. After all it was a nicely balanced tragic thriller, almost classical in range regarding an ordinary schmoe who ends up an assasin and then an organised crime boss in Brazil (or as someone aptly puts it on IMDB : The Accidental Scarface). Well acted, well directed and it looked pretty good. But I hated it. Why? Could it be:
a) The film wasn’t as good as City of God – the other big Brazillian film of the year? Surely not – this would be asking for impossibly high standards of course (I fully expect to see City Of God topping year end polls this Christmas).
b) The rampant violence and amorality of the story? Hmm, this would be ascribing levels of morality to my cinema going which have not hither too been tested. I watched all of Ichi The Killer after all.
c) Was it the suggestion that all it takes is a change of haircut to change a personality? Possibly not the greatest idea but it would not be the first film to posit a link between fashion and personality. Perhaps I objected to the idea that going blonde might make a man more aggressive, but again this doesn’t really come close to some of the more offensive bobbins I’ve put up from films like Shrek.
d) Or was I just in a bad mood?
On reflection I think all of these do come into play. I have seen a lot of Brazilian films this year, going back to Cinema Novo and Man Of The Year did not seem to have as strong a connection with them. Again no reason for me to hate it, but perhaps its flipside of City Of God stylings annoyed me. This is almost a middle-class slacker version of City of God, there is no imperative to crime here. The way the film disregards both of its main female characters also suggests that the misogeny is not just in the lead character. Indeed there is an implied racism in the whole thing too, which is supposed to make us dislike the corrupt route our lead character is taking, but is again a touch gratuitous. Is it the essence of blondeness, the non-blackness of this hair colour that now marks him out as an avenger for the middle class community? And how is casual racism a road to corruption when our hero has already at the start of the movie shot someone in cold blood for laughing at his hair.
I did not like Man Of The Year because I had absolutely no sympathy for the hero, but more cuttingly I had a lot less interest. Instead I was interested in his wife, the girlfriend he inherited from his first murder victim; I even liked his pig more. In the end though perhaps my prejudice stems from the fact that Claudia Abreu looks a bit like a blonde Russ Abbot.