(1998)4Karl WilliamsGlobal awareness of Brazil's rebounding film community continued to grow with Central Station (1998), the third feature of Rio de Janeiro-born director Walter Salles. Oscar nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and for the performance of leading lady Fernanda de Montenegro, the film is similar to Vittorio de Sica's The Bicycle Thief (1948) in its depiction of the fragile relationship between a world-weary, cold-hearted adult and a fearful but idealistic boy. Salles's preoccupation with Brazil's economic hardships and their effect on his native society was also the basis for his previous film, Terra Estrangeira (1995), about a generation of Brazilians who have emigrated to the industrialized south or out of the country entirely, seeking greater economic opportunity. Central Station is also a tearjerker and functions effectively on a purely emotional level, due in no small part to the non-manipulative, dazzlingly subtle performance by Montenegro. Reminiscent of both the DeSica classic and of the writing of Charles Dickens, Salles' film is a tale of spiritual reawakening that calls, like many nostalgic American films, for both a new identity and a return to a place and sense of self that has been lost.