May 02, 2007, Epoch Times
A young boy comes of age during the Uruguayan Carnival
Leonardo Ricagni’s story of a young boy’s journey from an illiterate and empty existence to one with spirit and hope uses as its backdrop Uruguay’s festive Carnival. When young Obdulio finds a mentor in the newspaper’s night watchman, he not only learns to read, but to see the magic in the performances of the “Murgas” (Carnival Pierrots) and, in fact, his world.
Obdulio has taken on the responsibility of caring for his grandmother and two younger sisters by forgoing school to sell newspapers on the streets of Montevideo. His dream of becoming a professional football (soccer) player seem far from reach as he struggles to earn what little money he can to supplement his grandmother’s fortune-telling income.
Just as he seems to lose hope, however, a street performer catches his eye and Obdulio’s curiosity leads him to the office of the newspaper’s mysterious night watchman. Taking him under his wing, this caring and charismatic man uses the lyrics of the Murgas to teach Obdulio to read and to see the inner meaning of the songs.
A Dios Momo is an endearing tale that utilizes the dynamics of different relationships with the main character in addition to more symbolism that any one movie really needs to support the ideals of the movie’s message.
It is Obdulio’s grandmother who sums up this message most explicitly when she says, “Magic evaporates when you lose touch with the spirit of things.” The film’s protagonist seems to go through life completely out of touch with “the spirit of things” as he goes through the motions of peddling a newspaper he can’t even read and focusing on the fame he may one day achieve as a professional sports star.
Audiences may find this film to drag on at times as it seems some scenes reiterate ideas and should probably have been cut. Stylistically, the director wanted to create an artistic picture which feels quite transparent and unnecessary for the story. What’s more, the movie seems to end without much resolution of the movie’s theme or the central character’s situation. It simply falls a bit flat.
A Dios Momo does have heart, however. The contrast between scenes makes for an interesting tapestry of experiences. The relationships between Obdulio and his best friend, his grandmother, the newspaper night watchman, the Murgas, and a local pub owner allow for full development of the central character and empathy for his plight. The ideals of magic and spirituality as represented in the lyrics of the Murgas spell out the movie’s theme. Such ideals are a refreshing focus for a modern movie.
On the surface, A Dios Momo could use some refinement, but its inner meaning is uplifting. If you plan on seeing this film, just take the advice of Obdulio’s grandmother, and keep your eye on “the spirit of things.”