Central Station is a hope-filled Brazilian drama that begins in Rio de Janeiro and expands deep into the nation's countryside. Fernanda Montenegro, one of Brazil's most respected actresses, stars as a jaded woman who subsists by penning letters for illiterate folks passing through the city's train station. She gets paired with the 10-year old unknown Vinicius de Oliveira, playing a streetwise boy whose mother is killed only moments after Montenegro's scribe writes a letter for her. Montenegro shines alongside de Oliveira, as their world-weary characters slowly warm into sensitivity and understanding.
They soon depart from Rio on a quest for de Oliveira's father that leads them deep into the heart of Brazil. Along the way, finely woven strands of poverty, religion, faith, and trust weave their way into the pilgrims' tale. Walter Salles' background in documentary film enriches the presentation of contemporary Brazil while ensuring that Central Station's reaffirming qualities don't get sidetracked by the sentimental. His directorship teases the best of out Montenegro's considerable talent as well as the cast of unknowns, hearkening back to high moments in Italian Neorealism. Central Station unfolds with a cherished deliberateness like a letter from a loved one.