VOD Review - From Beginning to End

Rafael Cardoso (left) and João Gabriel Vasconcellos
are barely concerned in "From Beginning to End"
This Brazilian film was released in 2009. It became available on DVD in 2011. It's an interesting movie on which to comment now because a character here leaves Brazil to go to Russia to train for the Olympics. This year saw the 2014 Olympics occur in Sochi, Russia, which is along the Black Sea near the nation of Georgia and Turkey. The problem is that the Sochi Olympics was this year's Winter Olympics. The character leaving Brazil is a swimmer, and unfortunately swimming isn't a sport that's given medals at the Winter Olympics. Swimming is a summer sport. Given when the movie was made, it would have been more appropriate for the character to leave to London, which held the 2012 Summer Olympics. Ironically, those next set of games is going to be held at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

João Gabriel Vasconcellos stars as Francisco, an Argentinian doctor who lives in Brazil with his Brazilian half-brother. Rafael Cardoso co-stars as Thomás, nicknamed Tom Tom, the Olympic swimmer in question who is Francisco's sibling. Francisco and Tom Tom share the same mother Julieta but have different fathers. Both were raised, however, in Brazil with Julieta and Tom Tom's father Alexandre. The twist is that they not only live together, but both are gay or homosexual, and the two are each others' lover. Yes, Francisco and Tom Tom are having an incestuous affair.

Written and directed by Aluizio Abranches, half the film, if not two-thirds, takes place while both are still children. Francisco is older than Tom Tom, but the majority of the time focuses on the period when Francisco was about 10-years-old and Tom Tom was between 5 and 8-years-old. Knowing what the movie is about prior to watching it, each scene between the two boys is oddly filled with an odd sexual tension, which is only released when the adult actors enter half-way or so into it.

The scenes otherwise are rather innocent. It's just moment after moment of Lucas Cotrin who plays Francisco as child and Gabriel Kaufmann who plays Thomás as child chasing each other through the house, having dinner, tickle-fights, taking a bath together, horseplay, wrestling and falling asleep in the same bed. If you didn't know where the film is going, you wouldn't assume there was anything bubbling beneath.

Abranches does have a shot that lingers way too long, which focuses on Julieta's face, as she stares at the two boys in bed. The scene is meant to imply a slight discomfort, or perhaps it's her first recognition of the future incestuous relationship. Except, the shot only works if you have foreknowledge of the incest that will occur. It could be just two innocent boys, two brothers caring for one another.

Abranches does underline things in a scene where Francisco's father Pedro visits and relays his definite and strong discomfort with how close the two boys are. It's unclear if he's reading the tea leaves and can see the future incest or if it's just a kind of homophobia he's expressing.

However, Abranches then jumps 15 years down the line and all of a sudden Francisco and Tom Tom are adults, in their 20's. Abranches ceases to have things be ambiguous or speculative. Immediately, the brothers are getting totally naked and having sex. The problem is that the 15-year jump is such a huge jump that it feels like a cheat.

We're supposed to accept this incestuous relationship, as if it's normal. Abranches provides no context of how it developed. At no point does Abranches lay down when either man decided that having sex with his brother was the way to go or why. We're supposed to accept that this is how each feels and that's it.

Another problem is that the two brothers have absolutely no problems. Everything is perfect. Abranches kills off Julieta and Pedro, so their conflict or potential opposition to this relationship is eliminated. The two brothers have a friend named Ivan who tells Tom Tom about his Olympic opportunity in Russia and Ivan is perfectly fine with their incest. In fact, the word incest is never even spoken.

A few years ago, another film Harry and Max dealt with incest between brothers, but that movie didn't make it innocuous or as if it's a common occurrence. Even if it did, at least it had scenes that explored how the relationship developed from a more conscious level. This movie goes from children playing to adults fornicating and there is a big disconnect.

Abranches does manufacture some drama in the third act, which underscores the fact that Francisco is gay, but it adds no more insight on how an incestuous relationship might operate in the world. Francisco and Tom Tom do exchange wedding rings, but what would their actual wedding be like? What would people say? Abranches doesn't even consider approaching these questions.

Abranches also misses an opportunity here. So many films only deal with homosexuality from people 16 and older. Many accounts come from LGBT individuals who claim to know that about themselves at younger ages, even at 5 or 10. In lieu of jumping ahead, Abranches could have made this an exploration of that realization in children, but instead Abranches takes the road most traveled.

Two Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but contains full-frontal nudity and sexual situations.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 36 mins.


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