A Dog's Will

A Dog's Will (2000)

A Dog's Will
8.1/10 by 204 users

The lively João Grilo and the sly Chicó are poor guys living in the hinterland who cheat a bunch of people in a small Northeast Brazil town. But when they die, they have to be judged by Christ, the Devil and the Virgin Mary, before they are admitted to paradise.

Original Title:O Auto da Compadecida
Release Date:September 10, 2000
Genres:Adventure, Comedy
Production Company:Lereby Productions, Globo Filmes
Production Countries:Brazil
Director:Guel Arraes
Writers:, ,
Casts:, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Plot Keywords:brazilian, comedy
  • Lost in Cultural Translation
    July 14, 2014

    I viewed this movie based on the many recommendations here and elsewhere. I'm no stranger to Brazilian cinema, though I do not profess to be anything close to familiar with it -- at least with comedy. (More from the drama and crime veins.) And I know enough of Portuguese to barely get by (and even have a native Portuguese-speaking wife).

    The story is over-acted, but you kind of have to give it a pass for that as an adaptation from the original stage play. So manners, expressions, and exchanges are all exaggerated for the stage but put on film. It comes on pretty thick.

    Then there's the subject matter of the story and comedy itself. I love parody, but the sort of social, class, and religious satire that dominates this movie seems very predictable and trite from a modern American's perspective. Here's where I think much of it was lost in translation for me: cultural and historical translation. The jokes seem forced, and many of the situations follow the absurd misunderstandings of an episode of 1970s TV's "Three's Company".

    I can only guess that the subject matter may have been taboo or shocking at the time to make cynical jokes about how, say, the priesthood might respond differently based on money and class. But in today's world where we have the realities of child abuse scandals and the like, it comes off too dated and quaint to have much impact by comparison to all that we know today.

    The comedy itself lacks variety, relentlessly focusing on the topic of social, class, and religious stratifications and hypocrisies. As such it's quite one dimensional, so if the social play of poor people tricking more influential people to interpret things differently according to their egos and financial interests doesn't provide a wealth of laughs for you, the movie falls completely flat and drones on the topic incessantly.

    I made it through to the end, but I kind of wish I had stopped sooner. Definitely for specific tastes of humor.