There is barely a second where Socrates is out of shot. A handheld style employed by cinematographer João Gabriel de Queiroz has the flavour of Cassavetes’s Faces, but makes it feel as though the character is being followed by a guerrilla news reporter, on hand to capture the next disaster.
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
With an authenticity rarely seen in contemporary cinema, it examines the lives of those that struggle to survive in ecosystems that function according to their own decrepit principles.
The writing by the director and co-scribe Thayná Mantesso is deft and pithy, and there’s a rawness of spirit in both the stellar central performance and the film’s social realist aesthetic.
Malheiros’ terrific turn makes this protagonist credibly tough by necessity, and mature beyond his years. Ordakji is also excellent as the not-much-older new friend whose reluctance to be more helpful is, like other backstory elements here, only partly explained later on. Despite the film’s raw realist air, these two actors aren’t amateur discoveries, but rather theater studies graduates making their screen debuts — at no doubt the beginning of long careers.
Socrates is a haunting slice of Brazilian neo-realism that marks its tyro director/co-screenwriter as a talent to watch.
What gives Socrates its special distinction are the precision and excellence exhibited in all major areas of its making, from direction, writing, editing and cinematography to the two standout performances by young actors that anchor its drama.
Socrates isn’t simply about being gay, or poor, or even devastatingly unloved: It’s about honoring a resilience that most of us will thankfully never have to summon.
Running at just 71 minutes, Socrates left me wondering if it was slightly underdeveloped as a feature project. But plenty of glossier and more finished films don’t have its beating compassionate heart.
Moratto and Thanyá Montesso’s script is precise and minimal. Christian Malheiros and Tales Ordakji make for a wildly charismatic screen coupling.