Caíto: a moving film about brotherly love
Caíto, actor Guillermo Pfening’s directorial début, is both a documentary and a fictional account starring his younger brother Caíto, who suffers from a genetic disease that causes muscular dystrophy and prevents a normal lifestyle. He needs assistance to move, get around and do simple chores. Pfening had already made a short film with his brother, also called Caíto (2004). Now’s the time to go big.
Caíto, the film, does two things at once: it documents Caíto’s life and it also depicts the making of a fiction film with Caíto playing himself. Or, better said, a fiction film based on his real life with his real friends and relatives. In the main story, Caíto has a warm girl friend who loves him dearly, while he becomes a father figure for a 9-year-old girl mistreated by her family. In the fictional movie being shot, Caíto sees his most cherished dream come true: to have a family of his own.
So you see the preparations for the fiction film, some scenes as they are being shot, other scenes as you would see them if you were watching the finished film and, in between, the documentary on Caíto’s regular life.
Above all, what you see is a declaration of love between brothers. Guillermo Pfening gives his younger brother the opportunity to be on the big screen, to be the protagonist of a dream, and Caíto returns the favour by expressing love and affection in a way only brothers can. There’s no doubt that Caíto, the film, is living proof of a most loving bond that overcomes adversity and misfortune. It is, indeed, an act of love.
However, as a film, Caíto is not that compelling or insightful. It’s merely descriptive, at best. It presents a scenario, introduces the characters, makes a couple of observations, and that’s it. The love these brothers feel for one another is unquestionable, but the film that comes out of that love is purely anecdotal.
It just doesn’t dig deep into the many facets of this material. It doesn’t say much about Caíto’s real life, or what he thinks and feels towards this or that.
It’s a film made with the best intentions, but that doesn’t make it a film with thought-provoking questions.
From a strictly cinematic standpoint, it’s just correct, no formal exploration of the film medium is found here.
On the plus side, this type of material often gives way to facile sentimentalism, inducing viewers’ identification with the plight of the protagonist. In short, films meant to make you cry or be moved by manipulative means. Fortunately, it’s not the case here. Pfening casts a dignified, respectful and sometimes humorous look on the story, the kind of humour that does not make fun of its subject.