EL BAÑO DEL PAPA (THE POPE’S TOILET) (César Charlone, Enrique Fernández, Brazil/France/Uruguay). 97 minutes. Subtitled. Saturday (May 17), 7 pm, Bloor. Rating: NNN
Fernando Meirelles, who directed City Of God and The Constant Gardener (and this year’s Cannes opener, Blindness), is credited as an executive producer of this Uruguayan dramedy, which shares both his social consciousness and tendency toward moralizing.
Set in 1988, this energetic comedy of errors follows the misadventures of a scrappy, impoverished hustler (César Troncoso) who, upon learning that Pope John Paul II is planning to visit the tiny village of Melo, decides to build a pay toilet for the inevitable flood of pilgrims.
Co-directors César Charlone and Enrique Fernández borrow heavily from the Italian neo-realist tradition, using hand-held cameras and frantic cutting to convey their protagonist’s growing sense of desperation. It all works pretty well until they tip over into class-conscious hectoring in the final act.
THE TORONTO HISPANO-AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL at the Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor West) and NFB Mediatheque (150 John), from Thursday (May 15) to May 25. For complete ticket info and lineup, see listings, page 108, and www.thaff.com.