So a couple of days ago I watched Do começo ao fim (2009). And I've been thinking it over ever since.
For those who don't recognize the title, it concerns a brazilian movie whose trailer has been making the rounds. The movie tells the story of two half-brothers (they have the same mother) by the names Francisco and Thomás who enter into a sexual/romantic relationship later in life. The tag line reads as follows: "To understand this love, one has to turn the world upside down" (Para entender esse amor é preciso virar o mundo pelo avesso).
First things first. Being a fan of slash (and of some incestuous pairings), I am the intended public for Do começo ao fim. Also, I get what the director tried to do here and I appreciate his - and everyone else's - effort. In the end, though, I guess I liked the idea of the movie better than the execution.
For instance, the story starts with a voice over by Thomás, who looks back on his birth. According to family lore, he didn't open his eyes for the first two weeks of life. At that time, everybody worried with the exception of their mother. She used to say that Thomás would act when he was ready - when he felt like doing it. She is proven right. One day, he opened his eyes and looked into the eyes of Francisco. This opening his eyes/gazing into the eyes of his older brother is coded as Thomás exercising his free will, doing what he deems right regardless of other people's expectations and society's rules. It's a theme I embrace wholeheartedly. I'm all for questioning the general assumptions about love and desire - for criticizing the ways culture/society tries to regulate lots of things it has no business regulating.
But the movie loses me some when it doesn't run with it. Sure, we have scenes where a person close to the boys (the mother, her first husband, her second husband) comments on their unusual closeness and ever growing intimacy. After the words are spoken, however, they are soon forgotten - or they appear to be. No one (that we can see) actually talks to the brothers about the stigmas associated with homosexuality and incest. Again, more power to people who think outside the box - the nonconformist types among us. Still, the way it all plays out in the narrative... It strains credulity.
And the major time jump doesn't help matters any. The story goes from the funeral of Francisco's father (Francisco is 12 and Thomás is 6 or 7 then) to their mother's funeral, when they are both young men in their twenties. As soon as she is dead and buried, they fall into bed together. No preamble. No rehearsal. No angst nor guilty whatsoever. Not even a moment of doubt/hesitation. It makes for LOTS of hot scenes throughout the movie but I, for one, needed more.
I needed the intervening years: the instant one brother and/or another realized he was attracted to his own flesh and blood; the time it took for them to deal with the realization; the time it took for them to decide "to hell with society" and go for it. I really want to know how they came to this choice; what it is about these two characters that gives them the strength/conviction to defy such ingrained taboos. Unfortunately, I left the theater empty-handed.
Problems aside, I would recommend Do começo ao fim. It has the fairy tale romance (and the guaranteed happy ending), plus a couple of very handsome actors being cute & hot together/making out with enthusiasm/rolling around in bed naked.