Friday, November 30, 2007


DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: DVD Features Female Hip-Hop, Brazilian-Style

What hath hip-hop wrought? There is an emerging trend worthy of note in foreign films, namely, movies featuring aspiring rappers. America obviously is doing a decent job of exporting the celebrated aspects of ghetto culture and thereby causing an explosion of wannabes elsewhere.
Although Antonia is fictional and set in Brazil, it arrives heavily-laden with a music video sensibility. The film revolves around four black babes from the Sao Paulo barrio fed up with being backup singers. So, they form their own all-girl group called Antonia in order to perform a new brand of music combining elements of pop, soul and rap. However, despite the best efforts of the producer (Thaide) who discovers them and puts them on the banana circuit, their personal lives remain enough of a mess to prevent them from making it over the top.
Whether it’s Barbarah’s (Leilah Moreno) exacting a measure of revenge on the gay basher who murdered her brother’s boyfriend, jealous Preta (Negra Li) opting to raise her daughter by herself because of her suspicions that Maya (Jacqueline Simao) might be after her emotionally-distant husband, or pregnant Lena (Cindy Mendes) dealing with pressure from her baby-daddy to have an abortion, everybody has issues.
Curiously, the lead actresses here are ostensibly actual aspiring hip-hop artists who perform their own tunes. While their rendition of Killing Me Softly won’t make you forget either Roberta Flack or Lauryn Hill’s versions, they’re at least able to hold their own.
Still, Antonia is rather weird for an overcoming-the-odds flick in that the four newcomers cast in the starring roles are obviously attempting to achieve in real-life what the characters they’re portraying are trying to do in the saga on screen. It all adds up to an entertaining adventure, but please don’t quit your day jobs, ladies.

Very good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity, violence and mature themes.
In Portuguese with English subtitles.
Running time: 88 minutes
Studio: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment

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