“Socrates,” a low-key Brazilian vérité drama directed by Alexandre Moratto, was made by a crew of low-income São Paulo teens as part of a UNICEF program to foster social inclusion through filmmaking. It was a fitting project for Moratto to engage them in, requiring only entry-level filmmaking skills in the service of the story of a marginalized kid like themselves: 15-year-old Socrates (Christian Malheiros), whose mother has died, leaving him with no support system whatsoever. While struggling to stay off the streets doing manual labor at a junkyard, Socrates encounters another boy, Maicon (Tales Ordakji), whom he can’t keep his eyes off of. It isn’t clear whether Socrates already knew he was gay, but if he didn’t, meeting Maicon leaves no question. The usual moments of self-doubt, contemplations on masculinity, and shirtless making-out ensue, acted well enough by the two newcomers in the main roles, though without much impact. The story is too slight, the themes overly familiar to leave a lasting impression, but the film’s deep compassion for its subjects redeems it.
B- (1 hr., 11 min.; Portuguese with subtitles; )