referred to as “the Godfather of Brazilian Soul” or something similar in
spirit, Tim Maia could be thought of as the Barry White of MPB. Given his
girth and habit of ingesting drugs and alcohol, he could also be called the
John Belushi of MPB. Sadly, both men suffered like fates. Even if you know
nothing about Maia you can probably predict his life story beat for beat, but
somehow it is still enthralling to watch his rise and fall in Mauro Lima’s
biopic Tim Maia (trailer here), which kicks off
the Music + Film Brazil film series this Tuesday at Symphony Space.
Maia grew up poor and chubby in Rio’s rough & tumble Tijuca district. He
fell in with a group of aspiring musicians that would become a who’s who of
Brazilian music. Erasmus Carlos and Roberto Carlos (no relation) maybe aren’t
as well known outside of Brazil, but Jorge Ben was also in their band.
Unfortunately, Maia had the talent but not the looks. When his so-called
friends starting finding solo success, leaving him behind, Maia took advantage
of an opportunity to travel to America.
didn’t exactly work out for Maia here, but it was his own fault as much as
anyone’s (or so Lima and co-screenwriter Antonia Pellegrino give us ample
reason to believe). Deported after serving a prison sentence, Maia returns to
Rio with nothing to show for the last ten years. However, he manages to
shrewdly parlay his friendships with the not particularly helpful Carloses into
some high-profile gigs. When he finally releases his first single, he breaks
the smoldering hot Janaína will finally give him the time of day. Heck, she
even marries him, because the party never stops when Maia is around—until the
drugs and money finally start to run out.
yeah, sounds familiar doesn’t it. Seriously, how many other music bios follow
the exact same course. It’s like these crooners and pop idols magically forget
every movie they have ever seen as soon as they chart a hit. Nevertheless,
these are the facts of Maia’s life, or at least the broad strokes, so Mauro is
stuck with them. That is why it is rather impressive how successfully he still
manages to pull viewers into Maia’s life, especially those who come in cold.
Granted, he definitely emphasizes some the more outrageous moments, like when
Maia builds his country getaway party palace on the wrong side of the property line,
but frankly we want to see that kind of Val Kilmer in The Doors lunacy.
Santana is a scary dead ringer for the older, perilously out of shape Maia—think
late Vegas Elvis carrying several extra tires around his waist. He is also a
really convincing jerkweed, but fortunately Robson Nunes makes a compellingly
earnest striver as the teen to twentysomething Maia, while Alinne Moraes earns
credit for nicely covering Janaína’s arc, from the wild party girl to the
emotionally and financially wronged wife.
It must be said, Maia had some pretty groovy
hits, which might be the most important part. It is also nice to hear him (or
rather Nunes in character) give his American hosts, the Cardoso family credit
for taking him in, even though they were not expecting him and their connection
was tenuous at best. Of course, you know how it is all going to end, but it is
still an entertainingly gossipy ride. Lima doubles and triples down on the
1970s and 1980s period vibes, which doesn’t hurt either. It is certainly recommended
for Maia fans, but anyone who digs soulful MPB will enjoy Tim Maia when it screens this Tuesday (4/4), launching the Music +
Film Brazil film series at Symphony Space.
Labels: Brazilian Cinema, Music + Film Brazil, Tim Maia