In Caito Ortiz's Brazilian crime dramedy based slightly on true events, outstanding hilarity and playful visuals ensues as does the most ridiculous heist ever pulled off
“Some of this actually happened”
The words bounce on screen just before Caito Ortiz’s Brazilian crime dramedy kicks off, and we are thrown straight into the theft of prestigious Soccer World Cup trophy, the ‘Jules Rimet’, which rocked the Brazilian population after the infamous theft took place in 1983, leaving the country bereft of their esteemed symbol of having won an unheard of three World Cups. Avid soccer fans will know that the crime was left, for the most part, unsolved, and the cup was left forever lost in the hands of a mysterious unknown, leaving Ortiz free to speculate wildly from the few rough details the case uncovered about the whereabouts of the country’s illustrious relic.
And the direction he follows takes the form of a reckless, down-on-his-luck gambler Peralta and his soon to be partner-in-crime Borracha, who steal the cup (“Just going in for some reconnaissance”) to pay off some hefty gambling debts, believing they are taking only the replica, which of course is locked away in a safe, leaving the real, razzle-dazzle of the actual cup tucked away in plain sight. This leaves the pair, much like the gift they leave in the second floor toilets for ‘good luck’, in some pretty deep shit.
It’s a premise that’s offered up in the first ten minutes, the film’s first scene being almost a complete show-stealer and proving immediately why this is one of the most mainstream films being shown at this year’s Raindance Film Festival, having already scored a Netflix deal for Latin America and a Visions section Audience Award at SXSW. Tension is mastered gleefully here, whilst the scene’s chipper, locally sourced score reminds us not to start drifting into the realm of ‘taking it all a bit too seriously’.
A reminder with its foundations deeply set in the impressive script, screenwriters Ortiz and Lusa Silvestre showcase their effortless dexterity with a very unique set of wits which remain, with relief, pretty much a constant throughout the film’s 90-minute run time, and some stunning dialogue which could rival even that of Hollywood’s best dramedies. Understatements are a favourite of the pair (‘Killing is harsh, man’), whilst intertextuality with some of those Hollywood crime dramas (‘C’mon, you Charlie’s Angels now?’ Peralta says when asked for a password at the nearby gambling haunt) further the dissociative humour Jules and Dolores wraps round its little finger so well, with our central character idling on the edge of intriguing, if not relying a little too much on outdone character templates.
And speaking of characters, Peralta’s girlfriend, the latter name of the film’s title, Dolores is another frustrating instance of character stencils taken to the max. She’s a sex-on-legs type model with the sass to match, every guy she passes dropping to her feet and kissing her freshly painted toes. And whilst she has some brilliant lines which save her from drifting into complete unoriginality, she isn’t explored in any kind of depth, her motivations confused and tangled for the sake of her boyfriend’s screen time. Given her prominence in the film’s title, the poster, and the ending, some depth into her character would have been immensely appreciated, and might have just savoured the film’s fifth star.
Jules and Dolores is something special, there’s no doubt about that. Something to look out for in the near future, it’s lightweight feel to such a hefty crime doesn’t take away from its heart, and its funny bone. A few belly laughs here and there, a whole lot more chuckles scattered all over the place, it’s easy to see why it’s been selected for the official competition for best film here at Raindance.
Jules and Dolores/O Roubo da Taça, directed by Caito Ortiz, is being shown as part of the 2016 Raindance Film Festival. Further information about the festival including screening times and ticket information can be found here