7 Prisoners aka 7 Prisioneiros, a Brazilian film is now out on Netflix India. Directed by Alexandre Moratto, the screenplay is by Moratto and Thayná Mantess. The film stars Christian Malheiros, Rodrigo Santoro, Bruno Rocha, Cecília Homem de Mello, Lucas Oranmian as Isaque and Dirce Thomaz. For non-Portuguese speakers, the film is dubbed in English with subtitles.
The synopsis reads, “18-year-old Mateus (Christian Malheiros) hopes to provide a better life for his working-class family in the countryside. Accepting a new job in São Paolo, he is shuttled into the city with a handful of other teenage boys from his town, unaware of what awaits them: exhausting work in a scrapyard and their identity cards seized by a vicious taskmaster and exploiter, Luca (Rodrigo Santoro), who threatens them with the unthinkable if they try to escape. But, as Mateus learns, even the boss has a boss. And if he wants to find a way out, what will he have to become?”
Netflix’s 7 Prisoners Review Contains No Spoilers
In 7 Prisoners, Mateus (Christian Malheiros) and his friends from Catanduva go to São Paolo to change their lives. They all belong to an economically indigent and hard-working class family. Unfortunately, the person who gave them the job hires them for a scrapyard owner named Luca (Rodrigo Santoro). Luca takes away the phones and identity cards from these young boys and asks them to overwork.
Every day, Luca exploits them without paying or giving them enough food to eat. Mateus musters the courage to stand up against Luca when he learns the boss runs a human trafficking business for someone more in power than him. The boy decides to strike a deal with Luca until there comes a time circumstances puts his morals to test. The film shows us what choice he makes.
If anyone who believes that slavery is an outdated concept has lost touch with reality. 7 Prisoners on Netflix is a profound representation of the harsh society we live in. Many young men and women like Mateus are exploited with a facade of ‘life-changing’ opportunities. People are forced to overwork with hardly to nothing as pay in return. The rich keep growing richer and heartless with the blood of working-class, economically struggling people on their hands.
Director-writer Alexandre Moratto has highlighted another serious issue in his film – Human Trafficking. Forcefully selling girls and boys for millions in return happens in almost all parts of the world. While the poor are used as a medium of exchange, it’s always the wealthy people who indulge in such activities. How much money will be enough for them to stop abusing the oppressed individuals?
The last film I watched that highlighted working-class people’s exploitation and struggles, enslavement was Netflix’s ‘The White Tiger’. Today, I read that The White Tiger director Ramin Bahrani is director Alexandre’s film school mentor. No wonder the storytelling is hard-hitting, and the depiction of reality is raw and sincere. Not even once any abuse or struggle was romanticised in the film.
Coming to performances, Christian Malheiros as Mateus is commendable, considering his character’s intense journey – emotionally and physically. Actor Rodrigo Santoro has incredibly played the cruel Luca with much conviction. The rest of the cast does a good job too.
7 Prisoners Review: Final Thoughts
Overall, 7 Prisoners, a Netflix Brazilian film, accurately depicts realism with a punch in the gut. Truth is often described as unsettling, and Moratto wants you to feel the same way. The screenplay is the biggest winner because it shows us the shift in Mateus’ character during various situations. There is no happy ending because this has been the reality for hundreds of years, with no end to the horrors perpetrated against those who do not yield the power of wealth.
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