GOOD-BYE MOMO (A DIOS MOMO) (2007)
Starring Mathias Acuna, Jorge Esmoris, Marco Da Costa, Washington “Canario” Luna, Marcel Keoroglian and Carmen Abella.
Screenplay by Leonardo Ricagni.
Directed by Leonardo Ricagni.
Distributed by ArtMattan Productions. 108 minutes. Not Rated.
Good-Bye MoMo answers the rhetorical question; what would happen if Federico Fellini were reincarnated in Uraguay?
Of course it isn’t a Fellini film, but it feels like one. It has the old-fashioned feeling of magic and wonder. It has people in gaudy outfits singing old-fashioned show tunes. It has grown men who have nothing else in their lives but to educate and involve a small child in the wonders of carnival. It has a mime in white-face with a pair of cymbals who may be an illusion, may be a crazy man, or might be the God MoMo.
It is a celebration of old-fashioned values, education, magic, whimsy and the power of the paper. In fact, the whimsical nature of the film can be a little overwhelming sometimes.
The storyline is not at all plausible, but that just adds to the whimsy. A very young newsboy (played by a charming young actor named Mathias Acuna) named Obdulio (and you will never forget his name because it is repeated literally dozens of times in the movie) has a tough life in the slums of Uruguay. He is being cheated and nagged by his boss. Older boys are harassing him. He has dropped out of school because he believes it is useless. His only friend is moving away.
All these things change — well not exactly change, but Obdulio’s luck reverses — after Obdulio is robbed by the tough older kids again. As they walk away, the strange man with the white-face and the cymbals shows up over the wall. Although he says nothing, he leads Obdulio on a tour of the city at night during Carnival. Through this tour he is introduced to a carnival singing group (who perform a series cutesy old-fashioned and totally corny tunes while dressed as bears and clowns).
Then the mime leads him to a night watchman named Barrilete (Jorge Esmoris) who makes it his own personal mission to teach Obdulio to read, write, spell and learn about the lyrics of songs. In fact, in just about any other film, Barrilete’s interest in Obdulio might seem a little creepy, however here they get a nice Cinema Paradiso mentor-student camaraderie going.
Through the teachings of Barrilete, as well as the members of the singing troupe and three crotchety older men who hang at a bug-infested bar, Obdulio learns confidence, the importance of education and the magic of words and music. If, frankly, the words that he is supposed to be so rapt from is not exactly artistic — that just adds somehow to art of the common man vibe the film has been espousing.
Modern American audiences probably won’t exactly relate to Good Bye MoMo, but that’s okay. It’s not a movie which should be seen by cynics or people who may fall into diabetic shock with a huge amount of sugar. However, its old-fashioned feeling, exotic locale and steadfast, nearly innocent belief in magic in life and art make it a charming slice of life which we would never experience otherwise. (4/07)
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: April 15, 2007.