Monday, January 20, 2020

“My Hindu Friend” Hector Babenco's Testament to Posterity

By José Alberto Hermosillo
“My Hindu Friend” is a cinematic celebration told with elegance, art, and gratifying visuals. A conciliatory testimony at the end of one man's life with a high sense of respect. The story of self-love and good cinema. It is also an insightful reflection about the life and death of one of the most beloved Brazilian-Argentinean directors, Hector Babenco.

If you think Antonio Banderas in his Oscar-worthy characterization of Pedro Almodovar in “Pain and Glory” was exceptional. Willem Dafoe's performance is fascinating and hypnotic, portraying Hector Babenco.

Dafoe’s execution is a tour de force playing this unique director in a quest for redemption. Without self-pity, his fictional character, Diego Fairman, a conflicting, selfish filmmaker who blames others for things that are out of his control – including his lymphatic cancer. 

In the urgency for a bone marrow transplant, his brother Antonio (Guilherme Weber) is the only person nearby with compatibility.

Antonio feels that Diego blames him for the death of their father and the misuse of their family’s money. Far-off, the brother became the medulla donor with a costly price tag.
My Hindu Friend, still photo courtesy of Rock Salt Releasing.
The family liaisons don’t go well. In private, everyone feels betrayed. His surrounded friends also have problems dealing with the stressful situation of Diego going under surgery and treatment with an unknown outcome. 

“My Hindu Friend” original dark humor lightens the awkward moments of Diego's fight against cancer. 

Diego’s witty personality guides us to unexpected places, enriching, even more, the flamboyant and pristine look of the film.
My Hindu Friend, still photo courtesy of Rock Salt Releasing.
At the hospital, he meets some interesting characters who will help Diego on his transitional stage, including a symbolic gatekeeper, the death, and his new Hindu friend.

In terms of separation of the body and soul. Every doctrine has different interpretations. For Diego, believing in those elements questions his religious beliefs because he is Jewish. 

Babenco's last work makes us feel the experience of a dying man who wants to redeem himself and pursuits another opportunity to produce one more film.

The exquisite soundtrack is composed by the extraordinary Polish musician Zbigniew Preisner, who worked closely with Krzysztof Kieslowski in "Three Colors: Blue, White, and Red" and "The Double Life of Verónique," among other transcendental soundtracks. The recording was done in Austria by the Vienna Symphony.
My Hindu Friend, still photo courtesy of Rock Salt Releasing.
Born in Argentina and naturalized Brazilian, Babenco is not afraid of talking about his active sexual life by any means - he shows the beauty of a women's naked body in a poetical form without any innovations.

When a director can transmit his personal experiences to the big screen in an intimate atmosphere, he accomplishes a high grade of mastery in his craft like Babenco does.


The filmography of Babenco includes his Oscar-nominated masterwork “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” He is also behind some other influential projects such as “Pixote,” “Carandidu,” and “El Pasado.” “Before Night Falls” and “A Play in the Fields of the Lord” represented his return to Hollywood.

“My Hindu Friend” has some references to "Pixote," a child dealing with drugs and prostitution in the streets of Saint Paulo, in the late 1970s. Both films deal with loneliness and despair in the dehumanization of an indifferent society.
 
The character-driven, linear, semi-autobiographical piece awakens paradoxical emotions in the viewer and transcends further the legacy of a director that is no longer with us.

“My Hindu Friend” is essential, spiritually meaningful, and a well-balanced work of art ready to be discovered by viewers who appreciate excellence in cinema.
 
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