With cancer plaguing him, Diego finds his will and his marriage tested. Leading to him finding himself humbled, delirious, insecure, vulnerable, and all the things that seemingly he was able to evade for most of his life. Well, unless under the influence and in good company. But as it becomes clear his time is near, and those considered family or friends don’t care to bear witness, he finds solace in a young child who allows him to continue to be a storyteller. The one thing cancer doesn’t have the ability to take from him.
The Strangeness of the Film Keeps You Engaged
There is a undeniable difference in this biopic compared to others. For as much as “My Hindu Friend” pushes you to understand Diego’s suffering, and that of his wife and others, it decides to always throw in strange moments or ideas to keep you engaged. For example, there are multiple dream-like sequences where you may see an elderly woman in lingerie dancing about as a would-be angel of death speaks to Diego. Also, thanks to the pain management Diego uses to deal with his cancer, there are moments of delirium when we witness singing, chaos, and a reminder that, while cancer has perhaps slowed Diego down, he is still very much a former womanizer and jokester.
This combination keeps you on your toes far more than the average biopic, and while “My Hindu Friend” doesn’t focus on the entire life of Héctor Babenco, it does push you to want to learn more and peer into what was the truth, fiction, or embellishment?
The Charisma of Willem Dafoe
Focusing on Dafoe, as much as he is the catalyst for the moments that leave you sometimes confused, or wildly enthralled, he always keeps a tight hold of the reins. This makes it so, as Diego is forced to deal with his loss of virility and finds himself realizing he cannot return to the wild ways of his youth, you can see how being humbled in such a way, smacked by karma even, is a gut punch. One that, even as it is made clear at a dinner party that Diego was a bastard at times, you wonder if the suffering of cancer was an overpayment to balance his karma.
For there is something in Diego watching his wife, Livia, slip away, his desperation for companionship and admiration, that you realize that even with him believing himself as cured, his body won a pyrrhic battle. The kind that makes it seem Diego may have lost more than he could ever recover, and the film, as a whole, might be a retracing of where it all went wrong.
On The Fence
While There Are A Multitude Of Moments To Keep This Light, The Weight Of What IS Going On Will Make You Experience The Time Length
With this being about a man with cancer, it is only natural the heavy subject matter will feel draining. Hence why there are comical moments sprinkled throughout. However, no matter what Dafoe and the rest of the cast do, it doesn’t quicken or lighten the pace of the movie. Diego’s journey to rock bottom, and even his attempts to climb towards a new normal, is often an arduous journey that may make it, if you watch from home, “My Hindu Friend” the kind of film you may need the occasional break from. Which is saying more about the impact it’ll have on you than the quality of the film. But, if you are someone who likes a good balance between comic relief and heartbreaking moments, you may feel the movie doesn’t give enough methadone to deal with the pain.
While “My Hindu Friend” ventures to odd and strange places, it seems to all be in an effort to differentiate itself from other biopics. It doesn’t want to relieve from intense moments with laughter strictly. It wants you to experience the strangeness that immense pain and drugs can do to a person’s psyche. The film wants you to understand what happens to a marriage when a man, for years, is sickly and is no longer able to live up to the persona which made him attractive. And, most of all, “My Hindu Friend” pushes the idea that, when stripped from it all, sick, vulnerable, and having regular visits from death, you will truly get to know why you were placed on Earth and, if your lucky, get one last chance to live the dream and achieve brilliance.