We 3 (Os 3)

Brazil (2011) Dir. Nando Olival

Three students new to São Paulo, Cazé (Gabriel Godoy), Rafael (Victor Mendes) and Camila (Juliana Schalch), meet at a party and immediately bond, moving in together in an old office building rented by Cazé. Since they will be living in such close proximity for the next four years they agree on a “no dating” rule, but while Rafael – who is in love with Camila – adheres to the rules he is shattered to learn that Camila and Cazé have been sharing a bed together. When graduation arrives the trio are about to go their separate ways until department store marketing manager Guilherme (Rafael Maia) offers to make their webcam based shopping website a reality with the friends as the stars and all the products coming from his store. Things are slow to take off until a late night drinking session sees all three sharing a bed. Suddenly this love triangle changes the fortunes of the show and the lives of the three friends.

This second feature length effort from Brazilian writer-director Nando Olival takes the basic love triangle premise and mixes it with the modern phenomenon of reality TV for this youthful tale that sadly misses the chance to be more satirical towards the voyeuristic aspect of the friends’ money making opportunity. At just seventy two minutes Olival rushes through much of the development of the plot and the characters and gets right down to business. Not so much bad thing but some area are left unexplored which would have given this film a sharper edge to it.

To give an idea of how this film will turn out our three lead players meet queuing up for the toilet at a house party and agree to go in together! Apparently this was enough to cerate a bond between these disparate personalities – sensible wannabe writer Rafael, directionless layabout Cazé and capricious aspiring actress Camila. The tension between the three is surprisingly underplayed as the four years whiz past without a shred of damage done to their seemingly solid relationship. Guilherme’s offer to make their website idea a reality marks the first real sign of conflict following the innocent three in a bed scene which caused their online show to explode in popularity, and sales to pick up for Guilherme’s company owned by his two grandfathers (Alceu Nunes, Henrique Taubate). Needing to spice things up, the trio decide to start scripting their own drama moving the love triangle idea forward with the boys being as much an item as they are with Camilia. The cracks begin to show as Rafael becomes increasingly uncomfortable with playing up to Camila then being shunted to the sidelines once the lights are off. So Guilherme decides to add a new face, Camila’s flirty cousin Barbara (Sophia Reis) to add more sizzle but instead she ends up being a spanner in the works.

This might for some seem like a modern take on the French classic Jules et Jim but the scope for a spicy and adventurous yarn isn’t fully realised here. Aside from the odd sneaky joint and a couple of “off topic” sex scenes our young trio are rather well behaved, even before the cameras are turned onto them to reveal a hitherto unseen modesty, making the three idealistic rebels in Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers look as dangerous as Che Guevara! Perhaps that was intentional on Olival’s part in order to facilitate the interference of Guilherme and his storyline ideas – not that the kids are uninteresting characters, but come the inevitable US remake you just know they will be as loud and as obnoxious as hell.

The short running time means so much potential drama gets overlooked, suggesting Olival may have been so attached to his characters that he didn’t want to split them up either. There is nothing exceptionally flash on the production front which is just as well, as this would have overshadowed the simplicity of the story. The muted colour pallet and mise-en-scene approach to the camera work is very effective, as are some nice little tricks involving slatted glass and natural sunlight. Thankfully the surveillance camera material is kept to a minimal. The young cast immerse themselves in their roles, being good looking but not exceptionally beautiful (well, Juliana Schalch defies this somewhat but her appearance is kept subdued here) and carry the weight of the film with great confidence, although they stand to be upstaged by the curmudgeonly elderly store owners who are the ostensible comic relief.

Brevity aside what we are presented with in We 3 is sufficient enough to provide an entertaining diversion, that doesn’t quite live up to the potential the story has but it does show a promise for director Olival. Perfectly fine for what it is.