Case in point: Diego telling a bunch of one-percenters about what purgatory is like could have been priceless but verges on farcical. Some amateur acting doesn’t help matters, and neither do particular snippets of dialogue. “You won’t die,” Diego is informed. “Because death doesn’t exist.” “Profit drives the market,” the nightly mystery visitor waxes philosophical. “Tell me,” Diego asks him, “is there life after death?”
Dafoe is magnificent, as always. He is bitter, resentful, determined, and insecure all at once. His relationship with the young Hindu boy is genuinely touching, albeit brief. The actor is as adept at making us fall in love with his kindness as he is at making us hate him for his brashness. “The movie you made was like a feature-length mayonnaise commercial,” he tells an aspiring filmmaker, in a way that only Dafoe can. “You’re just an ad man who’s gotten rich selling crap to people who have nothing to eat.”
“…a serviceable swansong from a true auteur.”
Sidenote: one quick look at Dafoe’s enviable resume and range, from The Last Temptation of Christ to Shadow of the Vampire, Antichrist, and the recent The Lighthouse, leaves one wondering: is Dafoe one of our most underappreciated actors?
Babenco’s cinematic farewell isn’t perfect by a long shot. But it’s brave and poetic when it comes to facing mortality and rediscovering life. It is also most eloquent in referring to cinema as one’s lifeline with a wistful view of humanity, of those friends who stick around and those who don’t. Babenco’s imminently encroaching end is palpable in every celluloid cell of My Hindu Friend. Because we shall never see another film from the formidable filmmaker, it certainly demands your attention, warts and all.
"…is Dafoe one of our most underappreciated actors?"