I watched Meninos de Kichute on TubiTV and was surprised to find such a well-crafted film that I had never heard of. Set in 1975, the story shows life in a small Brazilian city, where for men a status car is a Dodge Dart or a Karmann Ghia, and for boys, it is a pair of soccer cleats known as kichute.
Beto (Lucas Alexandre) is a 12 year old boy whose family moves often. At his new school, he is bullied until his developing goalkeeper ability makes him a leader and #1 amongst his friends. It is rough going at home though, because his strict religious father equates playing with misbehaving. He believes that God does not like competition, and Beto often has to lie in order to play. Beto lives in humble surroundings but doesn’t see it as such. His mother, older sister, and neighbors are loving and caring. It is a gesture or a word here and there that helps build the resiliency he needs.
While that is the character’s arc, Director Luca Amberg’s film is really about capturing the period and the life of boys back then: playing everyday in the streets and junk yards, owning kichutes, competing for player cards and neighborhood status, finding girlie magazines, and learning the lessons of Moral and Civic Education class.
The film is quite timeless, as the cast is diverse and the small amount of sexism is balanced by strong independent females. I don’t know if I can call this a family film, as it is really a drama that might appeal more to adults than children.
The soccer is excellent, as the production recruited its young actors from over 700 candidates. This was Lucas Alexandre’s first and apparently only film, which seems like a shame. He was either a very talented natural actor, or well-directed, or both. All the performances and the cinematography in the film are excellent.
It is unfortunate that this film did not appear to get much distribution. But since it is so timeless, I hope it gains recognition and lands on more people’s watch lists. It deserves to be there.
Note that I was only able to find and watch the film from the Tubi app on Apple TV. It does not appear when searching TubiTV in the Mac browser.
9 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 9