Carmo, Hit the Road -- Film Review

A road-trip movie not worth taking.

NEW YORK -- "Carmo, Hit the Road" takes the road-movie concept to grungy extremes.

Writer-director Murilo Pasta's Brazilian feature concerns two troubled characters -- Carmo (Mariana Loureiro), desperate to escape the clutches of her backwater town and repressive Catholic mother by any means, and Marco (Fele Martinez), a paraplegic smuggler who, after saving her from a violent lowlife, reluctantly lets her hitch a ride in his ramshackle truck.

Shot in the least picturesque highways and back roads of Brazil and Bolivia, the episodic film depicts the pair's run-ins with an endless amount of bad guys, most of whom are as much interested in raping at least one of the two as in stealing their merchandise. Along the way, the mismatched pair develops a burgeoning if uneasy relationship, not the least reason for which is that they find themselves in a life-threatening situation every few minutes.

Although the characters display intriguing aspects -- Marco is the rare screen paraplegic seriously capable of kicking butt, and Carmo is not above exploiting her potent (and amply displayed) sexuality -- the story line runs out of gas long before they do.

To enliven the proceedings, the filmmaker resorts to stylistic tricks, ranging from the color-saturated cinematography of the bleak landscape to the cutesy explanatory captions that show up onscreen with the introduction of new characters. Less appealing is the frequent display of gross bodily functions, including enough vomiting to induce similar reactions from viewers.

The charismatic leads display an undeniable chemistry, but it's not enough to offset the overall shallowness of the proceedings. 

Opened: Friday, Oct. 15 (First Run)
Production: A Contraluz Films, Magia Filmes Producoes, Gremi Film Prods., BR-3 Films
Cast: Fele Martinez, Mariana Loureiro, Seu Jorge, Marcio Garcia, Paca Gabaldon, Rosi Campos, Norival Rizzo
Director-screenwriter: Murilo Pasta
Producers: Xavier Granada, Alberto Aranda, Roberto d'Avila, Murray Lipnik, Grzegorz Hajdarowicz, Elisa Alvares
Executive producers: Roberto d'Avila, Xavier Granada, Justyna Pawlak
Director of photography: Robbie Ryan
Music: Zacarias M. de la Riva
Costume designer: Iraci de Jesus
Editor: Nacho Ruiz Capillas
No rating, 100 minutes