Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


The Pope's Toilet


Starring:
Cesar Troncoso, Virginia Mendez, Virginia Ruiz and Nelson Lence


Rated: No rating 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: April 15, 2009 Released by: Film Movement

There's a quirky, witty appeal to The Pope's Toilet (in Spanish with English subtitles).

Directors Cesar Charlone and Enrique Fernandez skillfully show humanistic flair from the small Uruguay town of Melo in 1988 close to Brazil.

Ordinary life is insightfully related through the travails of garrulous Beto (Cesar Troncoso). He's busy trying to get contraband past the vigilant customs officers, as his main aspiration is to finally get a motorbike in place of his broken-down bicycle.

In a place of around 50,000 denizens, there's a buzz when Pope John Paul II will make a stop at their hometown which will obviously attract many outsiders. Beto has an idea to construct a toilet, a step-up from a Port-a-let, again the prevailing profitable wishes of many to have souvenir or food and beverage booths.

The filmmakers know how the tittering of opportunity can go as most folks like these live the Thoreau "lives of quiet desperation". While the film exudes a certain warmth, especially from the driven Beto and the support and frustration of his wife Carmen (Virginia Mendez) and journalistic-minded daughter Silvia (Virginia Ruiz), it shows dimension, not just from Silvia's wishes to not end up like many others in the village.

Part of the conflict in the storyline has Beto up against an avaracious cop (Nelson Lence) who may have been a part of his childhood, as pathos develops from its goofy, somewhat humorous tone.

The spry, if unrefined production, from the score to the lensing, helps to make the film's themes resonant in the microcosm of an important event in a small town. It all fits the lived-in look of the setting and people who have lived some rough, clanky lives who could be on the edge of success.

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