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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Central Station': A Moving Tale of Compassion and Human Reclamation from Brazil

Central Station (1998) movie poster

Central Station (Central do Brasil) (1998) is a vibrant and resounding tale of human reclamation starring Fernanda Montenegro as Dora, an embittered former schoolteacher whose life unexpectedly coverages with that of a homeless 9-year-old boy named Josué (Vinícius de Oliveira).

Working in Rio de Janeiro's Central Station, writing letters for illiterate customers, Dora earns meager wages while carelessly neglecting to post the messages she half-heartedly drafts to far off loved ones. When one of her customers is tragically killed in a bus accident in front of the station, Dora is suddenly left in the care of the woman's son Josué—a spirited youth desperate for her assistance. Despite initial misgivings, she ultimately agrees to take Josué on a lengthy trek to Northeast Brazil in search of his long-lost father—a journey of intrigue and profound transformation.

Co-written and directed by Brazilian filmmaker Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries), Central Station is a road movie of uncommon emotional gravitas. Salles explores the moral temperature of Brazilian society through the eyes of young Josué—his innocence at stark contrast with that of the disaffected Dora, while their pairing delivers multiple revelations and unpredictable turns. Side-stepping myriad road movie clichés and transfixing his characters with an acute and penetrating eye, Salles has delivered an emotionally resounding vessel for neo-realism to the silver screen.


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