Year My Parents Went on Vacation, The (DVD Review)15 Jun, 2008 By: Amanda McCorquodale
Prebook 6/17/08; Street 7/15/08
Box Office $0.7 million
Rated ‘PG' for thematic material, mild language, brief suggestive content, some violence and smoking. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Stars Michel Joelsas, Germano Haiut, Simone Spoladore, Caio Blat, Eduardo Moreira.
Set in 1970s Brazil, The Year My Parents Went on Vacation is the story of how a nation's sports and politics complicate the everyday life of a young boy.
The film centers on Mauro, a 12-year-old boy whose parents must leave him with his grandfather as they flee a politically unstable Brazil. In a melodramatic turn of events, Mauro never goes to his grandfather. Instead, he is left to fend for himself in his grandfather's orthodox Jewish neighborhood.
As with the young boy in 2003's Monsieur Ibrahim, Mauro soon befriends an older neighborhood man despite their differences in age, religion and culture. Their relationship doesn't fully form until the end of the film, and until then, you are just as disheartened as the abandoned son, wallowing in the unknown and feeling deserted.
The lone spark in Mauro's life is soccer, and we watch him go from loving the sport to finding it a symbol of his parent's failure to return (his parents promised they'd return before the World Cup). In general, the pace of the film is too slow and the plot devices — soccer, politics and sexuality — are those that have been employed better in many foreign films before this.
Highlights of the film include performances by Daniela Piepszyk, who plays a sassy neighborhood friend, and by Michel Joelsas, who plays Mauro well, with a delicate balance of burgeoning independence and childhood fear.
In the end, The Year My Parents Went on Vacation leaves the taste of heartbreak on your tongue along with the notion that the world is neither a fair nor friendly place.