Good-Bye MoMo (A Dios MoMo)
answers the rhetorical question; what would happen if Federico Fellini were
reincarnated in Uraguay?
Of course it isn't a
Fellini film, but it feels like one. It has the old-fashioned feeling
of magic and wonder. It has people in gaudy outfits singing
old-fashioned show tunes. It has grown men who have nothing else in
their lives but to educate and involve a small child in the wonders of
carnival. It has a mime in white-face with a pair of cymbals who may
be an illusion, may be a crazy man, or might be the God MoMo.
It is a celebration of
old-fashioned values, education, magic, whimsy and the power of the paper.
In fact, the whimsical nature of the film can be a little overwhelming
The storyline is not at all
plausible, but that just adds to the whimsy. A very young newsboy
(played by a charming young actor named Mathias Acuna) named Obdulio (and
you will never forget his name because it is repeated literally dozens of
times in the movie) has a tough life in the slums of Uruguay. He is
being cheated and nagged by his boss. Older boys are harassing him.
He has dropped out of school because he believes it is useless. His
only friend is moving away.
All these things change —
well not exactly change, but Obdulio's luck reverses — after Obdulio is
robbed by the tough older kids again. As they walk away, the strange
man with the white-face and the cymbals shows up over the wall.
Although he says nothing, he leads Obdulio on a tour of the city at night
during Carnival. Through this tour he is introduced to a carnival
singing group (who perform a series cutesy old-fashioned and totally corny tunes
while dressed as bears and clowns).
Then the mime leads him to
a night watchman named Barrilete (Jorge Esmoris) who makes it his own
personal mission to teach Obdulio to read, write, spell and learn about the
lyrics of songs. In fact, in just about any other film, Barrilete's
interest in Obdulio might seem a little creepy, however here they get a nice
Cinema Paradiso mentor-student camaraderie going.
Through the teachings of
Barrilete, as well as the members of the singing troupe and three crotchety
older men who hang at a bug-infested bar, Obdulio learns confidence, the
importance of education and the magic of words and music. If, frankly,
the words that he is supposed to be so rapt from is not exactly artistic —
that just adds somehow to art of the common man vibe the film has been
Modern American audiences
probably won't exactly relate to Good Bye MoMo, but that's okay.
It's not a movie which should be seen by cynics or people who may fall into
diabetic shock with a huge amount of sugar. However, its old-fashioned feeling, exotic locale and steadfast, nearly innocent
belief in magic in life and art make it a charming slice of life which we
would never experience otherwise. (4/07)