"Memórias Póstumas" is based on the groundbreaking book written by Machado de Assis, the literary translation being "Brás Cubas's Postume Memories" but known around the world as "Epitaph of a Small Winner". The book is as much revolutionary as "Madame Bovary" was for the Realism movement in France and in the world. Created the Realism in Brazil, in 1881, throwing away the melodramatic and "too happy" Romantism and placing realistic emotions, sensations, giving a new life to books and stories; and it is highly regarded as the greatest book ever written by Brazilian's greatest writer.
André Klotzel took a giant chance while adaptating this book into film, a difficult task but he succeed in it. It is faithful to the written work, added a few things to make it easier to the contemporaneous viewers, since Assis books while are amazingly well written are also not so appealing to everybody, it's a difficult reading that works with irony, hidden messages, everything's too subtle to get in one reading. Art direction and costumes are well made; the story is presented just like in the book and the acting is very good.
Here, we follow flashbacks of Bras Cubas (played by Reginaldo Faria while older, and Petronio Gontijo while younger) lives, narrating his story from the moment of his death, bringing back to life some important moments of his life, how did he fell in love with Virgilia; the remedy he wanted to create to save the world and become famous; well, it's his life story. This is the story of a deceased author, and not of an author deceased as he explains, and we follow him, this semi-charming presence taking us back to small moments of his life, and now that he's dead he can say whatever he wants, without pity or embarrassment, who can judge him after all?
Bras Cubas reveals his thoughts about love, success, beauty, defects, and his bitter vision of what life is yet in a comical, sometimes romantic approach but without happy endings. I liked the film more than the book (which is unmemorable at parts, but it's a classic, and literates must read it. I read more recently for the second time at college's request while studying the author. The first time was because Woody Allen revealed that he read the book and loved it, and I got curious to see what Woody saw in it that was so good). But the book and the film are a little bit pointless. Shame on me saying this but it is; our greatest (to me, hugely overrated!) book of all time is pointless, because it says that life is pointless, the love of our live will be gone because we are cowards to fight for it in the time we have to fight for it, things will not be so great in life because we are cowards and don't do anything to change this. Here's a guy who died, without getting marry or having sons; without friends (the only ones at his funeral were there because he paid them); there's no real relations of friendship or love, people only have those relations if it involves money. Relations are built of interests and that's it. Love or whatever are science-fiction invented by melodramatic writers and screenwriters to make us feel important, glad that there's something at the end of the rainbow waiting for us, when in fact, we're all us in the gutter trying to raise above on people's shoulder to survive and not reach the bottom.
Well, looks like I contradict myself in saying that is a pointless work. It's not so pointless or meaningless but you need to have the ability of read between the lines, see what it's not said and make an judgment on that. And I guess that's why the film succeed it, it really said few things but we gather up with more at the conclusion, it makes us think about life itself and see how contradictory we are (an notorious example is when Bras sees the beautiful girl he fell in love with, but he forgets her simply because she has a difficult of walking. "Why she's beautiful if she's cripple? Why cripple if she's beautiful?").
Reginaldo Faria is impeccable playing the narrator of Bras story, a very convincing and funny character, and he has the best moments in the film where he could read the exactly lines of his character in the book (the beginning is totally faithful). Supporting cast is okay, but for some reason their voices sounded dubbed or very different from what they really are, don't know what was that.
If possible read the classic book and watch the film to get a higher understanding of what really this is. 8/10