Place III

film 3 of 5

Solo, the Law of the Favela

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 16, 2015

Solo, the Law of the Favela is a seeming and sort of documentary about football culture in Brazil, and it’s pretty perfect. The football part is engaging, and very impressive, but this is also an valuable assemblage of sociological data. Everything is clear and calm, one thing leading logically to the next, ending in a very convincing summary of fact and implication. This is what happens, why it happens, and what it all means. There’s something else here, which comes as a natural outgrowth of all of this catalogued data. That outgrowth is deeply emotional, very powerful. Sociological data comes out of human lives, after all, and it determines the expanse and outcome of those lives. Sociological data, or physical and environmental detail, also add up to naturalism. Which, as theatre scholar and August Strindberg translator Harry Carlson points out (Strindberg: Five Plays, 1983), is the modern, urban, industrial manifestation of tragedy. Like the title says, in the favela it’s every man for himself. Which means that horrible Leonardo prevails and sweet Anselmo doesn’t.

Don’t think the clubs aren’t complicit. They may take a bit better care of these boys than their parents, but it’s not exactly without self-interest. This isn’t just nihilistic, mind you. There are community elations—Gol!—and sweet interactions that hint at alternatives. Plus which, look at them play soccer. Leonardo too, and especially. He’s beautiful! It’s a confusing world.