The Golden Helmet



Locarno International Film Festival

International Competition

LOCARNO, Switzerland -- Portuguese director Jorge Cramez's tale of rebellious teenagers, "The Golden Helmet" ("O Capacete Dourado"), has a scene where a young couple gaze at rockets blazing into the sky -- but they are the only fireworks in the picture. The boys in the film tear about on motorbikes, yet the story of how one of them falls in love with the troubled daughter of a despised teacher is pedestrian. Missing the development that would make audiences care about the couple, the production is unlikely to make much headway beyond its home market.

The opening sequence in which the bikers play chicken by racing across a road between oncoming vehicles suggests a greater undercurrent of danger than the rest of the film delivers. Jota (Edourdo Frazao) is a scraggly haired kid who pulls wheelies in his high school playground and rides his bike into the school corridors. When he slouches late and bored into class chewing gum and hitching the door closed behind him with his heel, he is immediately sent to see the headmaster. Brief scenes with his father reveal that his mother is missing and, later, the boy suggests he was responsible for her death but that is not followed up.

Jota plays video football and goes fishing with his best mate, hangs out at a pool room and generally does nothing much. When he helps a young woman who has been pushed into the river by prankish kids and falls for her, he discovers that she is the daughter of the chemistry teacher he hates.

The girl, Margarida, (Ana Moreira), has just returned home after some unrevealed trauma and is given to gazing into space as if about to do herself harm. Her father, Trindade (Rogeria Samora), is a fussy disciplinarian; there's a scene in which he appears about to remonstrate with her but the director closes the door on the scene. A close-up of the girl's forlorn mother suggests plenty, but the scene goes by without further information.

Frazao is appealing as the boy but Moreira isn't given enough to truly register. The film is often slow-paced and murky. It's left to the fireworks to suggest there might be an ending, happy or otherwise.

Clap Filmes
Director: Jorge Cramez
Writers: Carlos Mota, Rui Catalao
Director of photography: Ines Carvalho
Production designer: Stephen Malho
Costume designer: Yara Jeronimo
Editor: Jaime Freitas
Jota: Eduardo Frazao
Margarida: Ana Moreira
Trindade: Rogeria Samora
Rato: Alexandre Pinto
Running time -- 83 minutes
No MPAA rating