© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
2006 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL
JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT

  Eric Eason earned the distinction of being named the most promising
filmmaker at the first Tribeca Film Festival with his drama
MANITO. He
returned for the fifth annual festival with his second feature film,
JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT, set against the backdrop
of Sao Paolo, Brazil's nightlife.

   I suppose the echoes of Eugene O'Neill might be deliberate since
the film borrows from
DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS, but this atmospheric
crime drama about a father and son (Scott Glenn and Brendan Fraser)
struggling to escape from Brazil and the woman (Catalina Sandino Moreno)         
who loves them both is overheated at best.

   It appears that Eason was attempting to make a modern day
film noir, but something went very wrong. At the packed screening I
attended, many in the audience burst into laughter at the ripe dialogue
and increasingly improbable events depicted on screen.

   The film opens with a transsexual hooker picking up an African
male who dies during coitus. It turns out that the dead man was to be
a drug mule in a deal arranged by Rosso (Glenn) who was hoping to
raise enough cash to flee with his younger wife (Sandino Moreno) and
their five year old. Unbeknownst to Rosso, his older son Paul (Fraser)
had set in motion a plan to derail the deal. The mule was going to
deliver the cash to Paul who was going to flee the country -- with
his stepmother and her son, whom he may or may not have fathered.

   Complicating matters is the newly selected mule Wemba (Mos Def),
an honest Nigerian dishwasher. Paul cannot get to him and thus
has to implement Plan B. Throw in the transsexual hooker who clashes
with Paul (Matheus Natcheragaele), a blind man with psychic powers
(Ruy Polanah), and a woman whose death has already been foretold
(Alice Braga, who resembles her famous aunt Sonia) and matters get
complicated.

   The perfomances are all over the map. Fraser, playing a hotheaded
drug addict, chews the scenery. Glenn is more subdued and believable,
while Sandino Moreno doesn't have much to do. The best work comes
from rapper/actor Mos Def who brings a warmth and charm to his
performance.
  
   
JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT ends on a note of
hope, but most of what transpires before is overblown and pretentious.

                        
                                   Rating:        C -