Picks and Pans Review: Gabriela

updated 07/09/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/09/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The combination of Brazilian sex goddess Sonia (Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands) Braga and Italian superstar Marcello Mastroianni ought to light up the screen. This, alas, is a dim bulb of a movie. The expected fireworks between Braga and Mastroianni, who usually can say more with a wink than most actors can say with a whole script, never happen. Braga plays a peasant woman in a small Brazilian town who is hired by the local tavern owner, Mastroianni, to be his cook. She soon winds up in his bed, and Marcello even marries her—mainly to discourage the lascivious glances that other men cast at her every time she walks by. The plot seems tailor-made for Mastroianni, but its comic potential is dissipated in a strange, boring portrait of the town. (The film was shot in Parati, a Brazilian coastal village.) Brazilian director Bruno Barreto, who also directed Braga in Dona Flor, seems at times to be emulating Federico Fellini, who always populates his films with bizarre characters. Barreto's weird faces just seem weird, however, not fascinating. Braga seems stuck in one attitude—the naughty girl who delights in her naughtiness. Even Mastroianni, who knows how to milk a script, comes up dry. (In Portuguese with English subtitles) (R)

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