A cantankerous old man Diego Fairman, Willem Defoe (“The Lighthouse”, “Motherless Brooklyn”), is dying of cancer. He lives in Brazil and is told that the treatment he requires isn’t available, that he should go to America.
So, with his wife Livia, Maria Fernanda Candido (“The Traitor”, “Bio”), he heads over to begin treatment. He needs a bone marrow transplant and the donor is his brother Antonio, Guilherme Weber (“The Business (TV)”, “Dear Friends (TV)”), a man he blames for their father’s death and hasn’t spoken to in ten years.
His brother decides he doesn’t want to do it anymore, he wants one million dollars to go through with the transplant. For the most part, he sits, ignored, in his wheelchair in the room.
Despite being a ‘famous director’, they say they don’t have the money, but find it they do, and the procedure goes ahead.
At night, Diego gets a visitor. He doesn’t say who he is, though talks about ‘the market’ and ‘god’. We assume he’s come to take Diego away, he’s not death, but a worker for him. They talk lots, with Diego trying to put him off each night. Let’s not talk about the woman who’s with this mysterious man. Ever.
Whilst having his weekly treatment, he is seated next to a young Hindu boy, Rio Adlakha, (hence the title) and, although the boy simply sits there playing his computer game, Diego tells the boy stories anyway and eventually manages to get his attention. Diego even goes as far as writing stories just for his weekly meeting with the boy.
The film was written and directed by Hector Babenco who is sadly no longer with us and it is said this is a film that reflects his own life with many of his family and friends starring in the movie too. To that end, it feels disrespectful and harsh to say any part of it is bad, but a review I must give.
Let’s start with the most obvious thing, the film is terribly slow, it’s an hour before you actually get to the whole premise of the film, Diego and the young boy together and then a further hour after. Even when you get to the boy and the stories, the moments are fleeting.
Given the premise of the film is this point, the title of the film is this point, it is an absolutely bizarre decision to have it arrive only midway through the film and then only take up a tiny percent of it.
The editing feels clumsy and unnatural, jarring at times, and is put together in such a way that you are not sure if what you are seeing is in a linear timeline, particularly at the beginning, or how long has passed, other than Defoe suddenly has hair and seems a lot brighter.
Speaking of Defoe, the performance is fantastic, he elevates the film from being mediocre to something much more. The directing is also decent, there are a couple of nice scenes and nice shots.
Massive kudos has to go for the inclusion of a clip of Laurel & Hardy doing Shine On Harvest Moon from The Flying Deuces. Between that, Defoe’s performance and some nice scenes, it’s hard to give My Hindu Friend much more kudos.