| February 27, 2012

From the very beginning of VIPs, we see that Marcelo (Wagner Moura) is a very ill man. As an adolescent, he cannot cope nor function within society, due to his father (Norival Rizzo) not being in his life. He begins to imitate and impersonate those around him and to his success, he realizes the benefits of not being himself. Whether its a pilot, a drug smuggler or a famous airline heir, Marcelo embodies all of these different personas in order to find the perfect life for himself. VIPs is based off the true story of con man Marcelo Nascimento da Rocha, who impersonated all kinds of people all over Brazil. Director Toniko Melo and Producer Fernando Meirelles fully realize these accounts in the film, based off of Mariana Caltabiano’s book “VIP’s-Real Stories of a Liar”, that make for an interesting and entertaining film.

First and foremost, Wagner Moura’s performance as Marcelo carries the film, from the beginning to its final frame. His portrayal of the famous con man is played with a touch of innocence, that comes from him being in search of himself, which makes the audience really care for him. Moura presents all of the personalities with good enough distinction and enough subtlety that he really shines through as the charming con man. Arieta Correia’s portrayal as Sandra presents an insight into Marcelo’s own character, one of mental instability and in need of dire help. While at first she is privy to his schemes and wishes to blow his cover, she finds him a kindred spirit. A story like this isn’t new at all but its this inclusion of the severe problem of mental illness that make VIPs stand out from the average con movie.

With Fernando Meirelles, director of City of God and Blindness, on producing duties, Toniko Melo gets some excellent production value for VIPs. With the excellent backdrop of the Carnival of Brazil, VIPs gets some great visual flair that is able to resonate with the themes of identity, amidst a sea of masks and costumes. There’s some interviews on the DVD, that speak with most of the key department heads about the process of making the film. With the interview of Melo, he mentions that many moments of serendipity happened for Marcelo, with opportunities that just really fell into his lap. All of the interviews are insightful, give a glipse of what really happened to the real Marcelo and what the film of VIPs was trying to accomplish with such rich material.

Overall, VIPs is an entertaining and interesting insight into the mind of an unstable con man. With this film being this good, I eagerly await Melo’s next directorial feature, as well as Wagner Moura’s next performance. Highly Recommended!

About the Author:

is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He's an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.
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