My Hindu Friend Movie Review: This is a very Strange Film
Movie Reviews

My Hindu Friend Movie Review: This is a very Strange Film

My Hindu Friend Movie Review: The mumbo-jumbo narrative leaves you confused and exhausted in this film

  • Movie Name My Hindu Friend
  • Director Hector Babenco
  • Actor Willem Dafoe, Maria Fernanda Candido
  • Rating
  • Rating 2/5 Stars

Rating: **(2 stars)

Brazil’s most celebrated filmmaker Hector Babenco passed away in 2016. This film chronicling his last years as he battled cancer and the ensuing self-questionings, originally released in 2015, has now been re-released across the world. I wonder if My Hindu Friend (original title Meu Amigo Hindu) serves any purpose besides reminding us of how tactile, erotic and  ruthless Hector Babenco’s cinema  was when it comes to outing its protagonist for a moral-spiritual scrutiny. The chameleon actor Willem Dafoe plays a Babenco-like film director Diego whose terminal illness has spread along with his egoistic attitude to life and relationships, and he has reached an emotional impasse with his girlfriend. He dumps her and is quickly seen mating with an enchantress who is chanting what she thinks are Sanskrit shlokas.

The mumbo-jumbo aura never leaves the narrative as we follow Diego and his ego into the hospital where he undergoes a bone-marrow transplant, the donor being his own  brother whom he hasn’t spoken  to for years. Babenco takes us right through the medical  procedure giving us details of Diego’s bowel and urine status that we would rather not know.

This is an extremely cruel film, forcing the audience to face Diego’s mortality much in the same way that a child forces his parents to stay awake because it can’t sleep. There is a sadistic streak in the  utterly gloomy storytelling, punctured by bouts of hallucinations where we see Diego conversing with a man, a suit and with a briefcase who is the equivalent of Yama. The God of death and Diego converse over chess while the audience is supposed to patiently try to ferret out some  existential  relevance to two hours of idle  chatter over death, sex and betrayal.

My Hindu Friend Movie Review: This is a very Strange Film

Diego’s patient and devoted wife (played by the beautiful Brazilian bombshell Maria Fernanda Candido) is treated like trash by the  genius-filmmaker. So are his brother and others associated with him. He catches his wife pleasuring herself because he can’t. Diego rushes to a prostitute for sexual authentication. He still can’t. The film ends with his new bombshell dancing erotically in the rain for no seeming reason except it makes for a stunning visual. At one point, Diego’s mother is clearly heard telling her son she never liked him. Can’t blame her. Diego comes across as a  churlish, self-absorbed, unrelenting jerk whom I wouldn’t miss after death if I knew him.

Why is the film called My Hindu Friend?  There is just a brief episode in the hospital where Diego befriends an ill 8-year old boy whose ‘Hindu’ father is dressed like a wedding guest clothed by Manish Malhotra. Father strikes tandav poses while son is  dying. Make sense of it, and let me know.

One hopes the film served a cathartic purpose in the late and great Hector Babenco’s life. It does  nothing for the audience.

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