Quick Review: “Aspirantes” (Hopefuls) 2015

envy – a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck

Envy…jealousy…”the green-eyed monster” — the feeling has many different names — but it most always ends in disaster and downfall. And the Brazilian film “Aspirantes,” directed by Ives Rosenfeld, is no exception to the rule. The film resolves around a young man, Junior (Ariclenes Barroso), who is having a tough go at it — he’s barely making ends meet and his young girlfriend is pregnant all-the-while he’s chasing his dreams of becoming a fútbol player — the dream of most Brazilian boys. Unfortunately, his skills are just average — unlike his best friend Bento (Sergio Malheiros) who’s a natural and life seems to be going in his favor. As the envy begins to creep in on Junior, his life starts to spiral out of control — will he get a grip before it’s too late?

The film starts intense and heavy at a techno club and it gives us a glimpse of the pure friendship between the two young men. From the beginning, we are left with a feeling that things will take a turn for the worse. As the film progresses, we see their relationship start to splinter — Bento tries to be there for his friend as best he can, but Junior, ever the strong-willed and independent (or maybe it’s just navitee) doesn’t want “handouts.” Is that male ego getting in the way? As Junior’s girlfriend’s pregnancy progresses, the two teenagers (they can’t be any older than 18) seem like they understand the reality of their situation and having a child — they don’t want to accept help or listen to their elders — ahh, youthful ignorance, the feeling that you are invincible and stubbornness — gotta love it.

Although the film is kind of anti-climactic and somewhat predictable, the acting was raw and sincere (Barroso full enveloped this character) and keeps you invested in the story. There was also some great editing/directing/cinematography. There were lots of beautiful and intense scenes of just silent panning in and pensive shots of Junior — its almost like you can see the inner workings of his mind in those moments. There was also an effective use of silence and music — in some of the soccer matches, the only sound was the heavy breathing and panting of the players and the occasional cheer. This intensified the scenes and you could really see the envy creeping over Junior in these scenes — you could feel the escalating tension. In the end, although it was a familiar storyline, the realness of the characters and the way the film was presented, make it worth the watch.

“Aspirantes” is currently streaming on OVID.tv.