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FADOS (director: Carlos Saura; screenwriter: based on an original idea by Ivan Dias; cinematographers: José Luis López-Linares/Eduardo Serra; editor: Julia Juaniz; cast: Amália Rodrigues, Chico Buarque, Mariza, Lura, Lila Downs, Camane, Caetano Veloso, Argentina Santos, Carlos Do Carmo, Brigada Victor Jara; Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Ivan Dias/Luis Galvão Teles/Antonio Saura; Zeitgeist; 2007-Portugal-in Portuguese with English subtitles)
“Celebrates fados, Portugal’s traditional music.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Fados is the seventy-something Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura’s third musical after “Flamenco” and”Tango.” It’s a colorfully staged musical performance film that celebrates fados, Portugal’s traditional blues music that originated from Africa and Brazil and was created some two centuries ago and is still going strong in the ghetto Alfama neighborhood of Lisbon. It continues to evolve in the present as a means for self-discovery and encompasses songs in different traditions such as hip-hop (unconvincingly performed by NBC, SP & Wilson), flamenco, reggae (unconvincingly performed by the Brazilian Toni Garrido), tango and ballet, which are performed by a variety of artists in short choreographed cinematic sets and huge soundstages. The main piece pays tribute to the legendary Amalia “Queen of Fado” Rodrigues (died in 1999), as there’s a clip of her rehearsing. My highlight scene is titled House of Fados, set on a soundstage Lisbon bar, where many patrons get a chance to belt out a tune about their life and aspirations and after the big-bodied tenor Pedro Moutinho gets into a singing duel with Ricardo Ribeiro, the brace-wearing teen, Carminho, stands in place to belt out a song with her version of fado and mops up the bar floor with the men.

The uneven pic fails to convince that hip-hop or reggae goes with fado, but when it sticks to its nostalgic traditional fado songs the pic has a majestic look and feel.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”