Movie: Carandiru

Length: 2 hours, 28 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: 2004-08-13
Cast: Caio Blat, Gero Camilo, Luis Carlos Vasconceros, Milton Goncalves, Nelson Machado
Director: Hector Babenco
Screenwriter: Hector Babenco, Fernando Bonassi, Drauzio Varella
Music Score: Andre Abujamra
WorkNameSort: Carandiru
Our Rating: 4.00

When we tell you that this film concerns a doctor working to stem the spread of AIDS in a Brazilian prison – and that it runs nearly two and a half hours – you'll probably prime yourself for an uphill death march of sanctimony. It's a relief, then, to report that the eminently watchable Carandiru is instead an anthology of crime dramas hung on a framework of big-house sociology. While their committed physician administers blood tests and teaches health-protection techniques, the possibly infected inmates tell stories of their ill-fated underworld careers. These bloody anecdotes – dramatized for us on the screen – make the movie a little bit City of God and a little bit Amores Perros (and thus a whole lotta Tarantino), yet no matter how contrived the format seems at times, every one of the hard-luck tales is violently good pulp. It's also fascinating to see how AIDS is regarded in the jail – as both a feared scourge and an exploitable shortcut to special privileges. Fallow point of the movie: A prison-wedding subplot that was a tad too Corporal Klinger for my taste.


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.