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Central Station

4.5 out of 5 stars 141 customer reviews

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(Jul 13, 1999)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

One of the most acclaimed films of the year, CENTRAL STATION is a profoundly moving tale of the human spirit, featuring an unforgettable lead performance by Fernanda Montenegro (Best Actress Winner, National Board of Review). Inside Rio de Janeiro's bustling Central Station, two very unlikely soulsare about to become inextricably linked. When a young boy (Vinicius de Oliveira) witnesses his mother's accidental death, a lonely retired school teacher reluctantly takes the child under her wing. Although initially distrustful of each other, the two form an uncommon bond as they venture from the bustling city to Brazil's barren and remote northeast region in search of the boy's father. Together, the two embark on a journey of the heart that restores the woman's spirit and teaches the child precious life lessons. A powerful tear-jerker of uncommon grace and heart, CENTRAL STATION is destinedto become a classic.

In the opening scenes of Central Station, colorful crowds of Brazilians stream into and out of a Rio de Janeiro train, pushing through doors and windows. You're immediately pulled into the brutal vitality of a nation in motion, setting the tone for a picturesque road movie that charts Brazil's renaissance in a little boy's search for his father and an old woman's emotional reawakening. When we first meet Dora (Fernanda Montenegro), this frozen-hearted, sour-faced woman is the epitome of immobility: day after day, she sits in the train station selling her letter-writing skills to all comers, but often doesn't bother to mail these precious messages. When a woman who's paid Dora to write a pleading note to her son's long-missing dad gets run over by a bus, the child, Josue (Vinicius de Oliveira), is up for grabs. (The summary execution of a thieving street kid--in longshot--underscores the seriousness of this waif's plight.) After an abortive attempt to sell Josue for a new TV, the aspiring couch potato finds herself reluctantly propelled into an occasionally Fellini-esque odyssey through the hinterlands of Brazil's sertäo, where Dora and her sidekick find unexpected faith and family. Former documentary filmmaker Walter Salles (Foreign Land) mixes magic with realism in his appreciation of striking faces and places, but Central Station is primarily fueled by the tough/tender performances of Montenegro, Brazil's Judy Dench, and de Oliveira, an airport shoeshine boy Salles cast over 1,500 other hopefuls. (Montenegro was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, and Central Station was in the running for Best Foreign Language Film.) No cloyingly cute child-star, de Oliveira plays Josue as a bracingly idiosyncratic brat. And watching Dora's face and soul slowly, unwillingly unclench as she gets back in motion--and emotion--is potent pleasure, even if Salles's trip does dead-end in soap opera as his Brazilian pilgrim's progress winds down. --Kathleen Murphy

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Vinicius De Oliveira, Marilia Pera, Fernanda Montenegro
  • Directors: Walter Salles
  • Producers: Walter Salles, Robert Redford, Arthur Cohn, Martine De Clermont-Tonnerre
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Portuguese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: Portuguese
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: July 13, 1999
  • Run Time: 2 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00000F5KH
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,006 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Central Station" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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The transforming and redemptive power of forgiveness is the major theme in this moving film from Brazil. The two leads, Dora, an older woman whose self-imposed sheltered life has been long shut-off from the yearnings and longings that make us human, and Josue, a young boy who forces her to confront her detachment as such, move the viewer from a jolting start to a warm, satisfying ending.

This is a film I never get tired of. The performances are great; the musical score is subtle, yet significant; the people and places are compelling; and the story, although perhaps somewhat manipulative, is overall enjoyable.

Some reviewers have side-stepped the warmth of this movie in attacking it as pretentious, cliche, and overtly sentimental. Although these are valid arguments, I felt that overall these points are forgiveable and easy to overlook.
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The first time I saw this film I came to the conclusion it was not only a simple movie. It was pure MAGIC! I was so touched that I could not stop crying.At the end the audience gave the movie a great and long run of applause! I saw it again in movie theaters many other times. And the pleasure I felt each time I saw it again was greater and greater. After the fifth time I started going to the cinema to see the other people's reaction to it. It was incredible the way the movie pleased all kinds of people (the young, the old, men, women, etc). I am so glad I can share this experience with people from all over the world! Thank you for the oportunity of having it in video! WATCH CENTRAL STATION, and if you're at least a little bit sensitive you'll have an extraordinary experience!
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Format: DVD
This is a film of contrasts. From Rio de Janeiro's Metropolis-like urban hell to Brasil's Nordeste - a barren place of barren and huge landscapes and unmittigated Faith.
Dora's character, played by sublime actress Fernanda Montenegro (Oscar nominated and certainly worthy of winning...) evolves from an urban Rio de Janeiro's letter writer-devil'll do all to a mother figure to street kid Josué after his own mother dies.
After that this is a spiritual road movie - for Josué's long lost father - and for Dora's long lost faith in herself and in other human beings - which she eventually achieves most purely in Josués character.
This is a powerful movie. Christianly so. Any religion-so. But mostly a movie about trust in the residual bits of humanity that allow those in near-despair to believe. Maybe not in God as such - but in christian individuals as such...
So is this a religious movie? Not exactly. And not at all a Catholic one.
But it is a delightful innocent mix-up of beliefs, with a kind of untainted christianism standing out.
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Format: DVD
Like Gena Rowlands in this country (who ironically did a similar film, 1996's "Unhook the Stars"), Brazil's Fernanda Montenegro is a masterful actress who inhabits her characters wholly with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of personal depth. In this beautifully filmed 1998 film directed by Walter Salles, she offers a superbly realistic portrayal of an aging, embittered spinster named Dora, who earns money by writing letters for illiterate passers-by at Rio de Janeiro's Central Station. At the outset, she is a petty thief who takes the letters and decides with her friend Irene which ones to post if at all. Her dull world changes when Josué, the nine year-old son of a woman for whom Dora has written a letter, suddenly becomes orphaned when the woman is killed by a speeding bus. The letter was to be sent to Josué's father to reunite the family. Now his plight gradually becomes Dora's concern, and over the course of the film, her destiny.

What Salles does with great dexterity is show the gradual closeness between Dora and Josué without resorting to any obvious sentimental plot devices, as neither is particularly sympathetic at the beginning and use their surly, obstinate personalities as protective shells. Even though this story has an overly familiar structure, Salles and screenwriters João Emanuel Carneiro and Marcos Bernstein bring a heavy dose of neo-realism within the unfamiliar, non-tourist locales used. It's all reminiscent of Vittorio de Sica's and Roberto Rosellini's classic post-WWII work in Italy like "The Bicycle Thief" and "Open City".
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Format: DVD
I just watched this movie for the fourth time. I had to show it to friends when it was released back in 1999. And after almost six years I still get the same emotions every time I watch it. This is the kind of movie that reminds people that simple things in life are the ones that should be cherished the most. A friendship that was born out of necessity and doubt, and a partnership that leads the two main characters into a world where the true meaning of "well doing" is exposed. Central Station captures two opposites' souls in a sort of a dance of character and personality, bringing different worlds together: The old and the young, a woman and a boy, a literate and an illiterate, experience and novelty. Central Station is sure to capture your attention for two hours and leave a feeling of satisfaction in you after seeing it. Superb acting and a great storyline are the main elements that make this journey, one that will stick to you for years to come.
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