"employs a handheld, single-camera style which keeps the viewer deep within the gritty nature of the setting"
Made utilizing a UNICEF project that saw the crew comprised largely of teenagers from impoverished areas of Brazil, Socrates is a smart and well-constructed examination of poverty, family and sexuality.
Iconic Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles’ name appears as an Executive Producer and much like his peerless masterpiece City of God, the plot goes directly into the centre of a poverty-ridden city.
It opens with Socrates (Christian Malherios) discovering his mother dead in their São Paulo apartment. This leaves him in dire straits – he does not speak with his father and now has little means of income. Initially he fills in for his mother in her job cleaning toilets but when news of her demise comes to the fore, he is let go due to being a minor.
With no government system or family to support him, he struggles to make ends meet – wolfing down food (when he can get it) as if it is going to disappear and taking whatever work he can get. From this we discover his sexuality – something that makes him even more of an outsider in a society that is unwilling to accept him from his father whom we do eventually meet to local hoodlums on the beach.
This too drives him to desperate measures especially in one particularly tense ‘standoff’ wherein Socrates must decipher how far into the abyss he needs, or truly wants, to dive.
Director Alexandre Moratto employs a handheld, single-camera style which keeps the viewer deep within the gritty nature of the setting while the script’s matter of fact approach to such hardships will have you aching for a hope that may only exist in the meta-like nature of the actual film’s very production.
At just 70 minutes long, it’s refreshingly short and doesn’t try to layer its simple idea with too much unnecessary added texture or additional plot developments, choosing instead to keep its focus on one young boy struggling, in multiple ways, against the world.