This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
I'm amazed this had a happy, albeit bittersweet, ending. A relatively simple film - simple characters, simple scenarios - with basic, un-showy techniques and a familiar feel about it. Yet Walter Salles, who went on to make the incredible City of God, has this ability to sneak up on you with the power of his filmmaking. The lack of sentimentality for the majority of the runtime increases the impact of the film's conclusion, which is one of the most beautifully executed displays of hope in cinema I've seen.
Fernanda Montenegro gives one of the great performances here, a truly special piece of work.