Raimundo Jesus (Mario Heiborn) is a fish out of water in a major way. He’s arrived in Los Angeles from Brazil to try and find his sister Severina (Anisabel Agnelli). Seems he drove her out of the house after he caught her having sex with his best friend and she never returned. Now their terminally ill mother has asked him to bring his sister back so she can see her one last time before she dies. Thus begins a caterwauling romp through some of LA’s meaner streets and encounters with several feckless but even meaner elements of the criminal underworld, all of whom seem to know of Severina, but won’t direct Raimundo to her. As his dogged search continues, Raimundo, the naive tea-totaling innocent who prudishly believed sex was strictly for pro-creation when he arrived in the states, finds himself drinking whiskey with charismatic dumpster diver Eddie Waco (Bart Mallard), unwittingly dealing drugs for Tony (Jesus Nebot), inadvertently stealing those same drugs from the flatulence-inflicted drug lord Gonzalez (Anthony Cordova) and — gasp! — falling in love with Liz (Linda Marshall Miller), that oldest of cliches known as the “prostitute with the heart of gold.”
Fair enough, as far as it goes, except that “Ole” gets increasingly entangled in its own red cape the farther along we get in the film, mutating from an odd but affecting story about a brother’s search for his missing sister and winding up as a slapstick sex farce. One problem here is an unnecessarily muddled storyline containing too many minor characters with not enough to do. This results in far too many mini-scenes ending with disruptive, flow-destroying fade-outs.
The bigger, and ultimately insurmountable problem with “Ole” relates to the inherently difficult task director Roberto Santucci Filho set for himself by trying to mix an urban drama with a screwball comedy. While Tony, Raimundo’s primary foil, is mostly a harmless, buffoonish blowhard that one is clearly meant to watch with their tongue in their cheek, it’s awfully hard to take Gonzalez, Tony’s constantly farting street kingpin boss seriously. Not only is this particular character trait disgusting, it renders him totally non-threatening, even when Gonzalez points a gun directly at Tony’s eyeball.
Finally, even within this freewheeling loony atmosphere, Raimundo’s highly accelerated ending transformation, and the confusing way in which Filho sets it up, comes completely out of left field. Heiborn is engaging enough as the initially hapless but adaptable and persistent out of towner and Miller makes for a fetching Helen Hunt lookalike. Yet Ole, constantly struggling to find the right balance between farce and drama, is one fish that never quite finds the water.