While the once-touted "Good Wave" (Bueno Onda) of Latin American filmmaking hasn't exactly been a cinematic tsunami in the UK, first-time director José Henrique Fonseca's Man Of The Year is further proof that Brazilian movies, at least, can provide a welcome splash in the face.
For a start, the premise is a doozy. Having lost a footie bet, swarthy dosser Maiquél (Murilo Benício) dyes his hair blond. Unexpectedly, the transformation causes him to tap into a hidden reservoir of machismo; so when a local hood insults his new barnet, Maiquél responds by gunning him down. Ironically, his dumb bravado elevates him to the status of a neighbourhood hero, and it's not long before he's working as a vigilante hitman for a trio of Rio de Janeiro's richest bigots...
Rather than take the predictable route of a GoodFellas-style rise-and-fall tale, Fonseca keeps things dark and satirical. After all, it's a pretty damning view of Rio society when a petty murderer becomes the titular "Man Of The Year". Sure, it lacks the warmth and humanity of City Of God, but it's a bold, twisted and compelling portrait of a man who gradually has the goodness sucked out of him.
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