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PALM SPRINGS — An assured first feature by Venezuela’s Marcel Rasquin, Hermano provides an effective lesson in how well-traveled subject matter can still pack a potent punch given the right presentation. In this case, the inspirational story of a pair of soccer-playing brothers who have a shot at a better life beyond their crime-ridden barrio gets a considerable boost from some dynamic filmmaking, which contrasts effectively with the raw, naturalistic acting to undeniably powerful effect.
The foreign-language Oscar hopeful’s audience-stirring potential has been noted by Music Box Films (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), which picked it up for a late spring American release.
The gregarious, imposing Julio (Eliu Armas) and the slight, more timid Daniel (Fernando Moreno) have remained virtually inseparable ever since the newborn Daniel was found abandoned in a trash heap in their La Ceniza slum, with the two subsequently raised as brothers.
Hope of a brighter future presents itself when a scout from the Caracas Football Club offers both boys a tryout with the pro team, just as a tragic act of violence results in creating a seemingly irreparable rift between them.
Writer-director Rasquin puts his background as a commercial and music video director to effective use, especially during the involving game sequences. But the film’s greatest impact comes with the convincing performances of its young actors who bring a real credibility to their relationship, as does Marcela Giron as their supportive single mother.
That believable foundation paves the way for a shocker ending that ultimately proves more poignant than sensationalistic.
Venue: Palm Springs International Film Festival (Music Box Films)
Production companies: Tres Palos Pictures
Cast: Eliu Armas, Fernando Moreno, Ali Rondon, Gonzalo Cubero, Marcela Giron
Director: Marcel Rasquin
Screenwriters: Rohan Jones, Marcel Rasquin
Executive producers: Liz Mago Bosch, Enrique Aular
Producers: Marcel Rasquin, Enrique Aular
Director of photography: Enrique Aular
Production designer: Maya Oloe
Music: Rigel Mitxelena
Editors: Carolina Aular, Juan C. Melian
No rating, 96 minutes
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