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O Heroi | The Hero

3.0 stars
By PETER KEOUGH  |  February 9, 2006
3.0 3.0 Stars
HOMERIC Vitório has it more difficult than most.No veteran demobbed after wartime has it easy, but the case of is downright Homeric. Snatched up at age 15 to fight in the Angolan War of Independence, he serves for 20 years before losing a leg to a land mine. Back home he’s given a medal, a pair of crutches, and a home on the streets. A kindly doctor pulls strings for a prosthesis; a street punk steals it. Director Zézé Gamboa unloads this misery with a matter-of-factness and a lack of sentiment that intensify the authenticity and heartbreak. He interweaves Vitório’s plight with the lives of other Angolans: Manu, a troubled 12-year-old whose soldier father never came home; Joana, Manu’s teacher, an upper-class woman trying to make a difference; and Judite, a prostitute who befriends Vitório. Uniting them is the unlikely fetish of Vitório’s artificial leg, and the ensuing crossed destinies surpass the contrivances of Crash. (O herói is the opening-night film of this year’s African Film Festival.)
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