By Paola Bassanese
Directed by Jose’ Henrique Fonseca, Heleno is the story of 1940s Brazilian footballer Heleno de Freitas, played beautifully by Rodrigo Santoro (Love Actually, Rio in 3D, I Love You Philip Morris, Lost, The Last Stand, What To Expect When You’re Expecting).
Shot in black and white, Heleno recreates 1940s Rio de Janeiro and the era’s football fever and excesses. The same excesses we see today with millionaire footballers and their antics.
Vintage Copacabana footage was blended well with digitally-edited scenes shot on location.
Leading ladies Angie Cepeda and Alinne Moraes brought some Hollywood glamour with a Latin flavour.
Fonseca used photography skilfully which is both a blessing and a curse: you are hypnotised and captivated by the images but at the same time this slows down the pace of the narration.
Santoro is truly a method actor, looking gaunt and extremely underweight to portray Heleno’s last phase of his life, plagued by syphilis and wasting away in a mental hospital. A huge price to pay for a life of hedonism, addictions, violence, tantrums and fame.
I was kindly given a ticket to watch Heleno at Odeon Covent Garden from CulturArt, the organisation promoting Brazilian art and culture in the UK. Heleno was shown as part of Cinefoot, a series of football-inspired movies to celebrate the Rio 2014 World Cup, within the Brazilian Film Festival.