By Sharon Calingasan
Director: Mariana Caltabiano
Mariana Caltabiano’s Stress & Relax is a mixture of live footage and animation that will make for interesting viewing for children and teens in particular. It is the story of two friends, the eponymous Stress and Relax, the former very business-minded but a voracious eater, and the latter always after recreation and, of course, relaxation. They are on a mission to find the Cariniana legalis, or the Pink Jequitiba tree, said to be the oldest tree in Brazil, so they can make a profit out of it. The catch: they don’t know where to locate it in Brazil so they embark on a trip that starts in Rio de Janeiro, and this is where the fun and action begins.
Based on Caltabiano’s cartoon production, As Aventuras de Gui & Estopa, the feature takes viewers on a virtual tour of Brazil with plenty of trivia and facts concerning the traditions, food, music and scenic spots. We get to see the cable cars and Sugar Loaf Mountain, as well as one of Rio’s trademark attractions, the Christ the Redeemer statue, which is said to be one of the world’s greatest man-made wonders. While Stress may be the rich businessman, it is Relax who seems to be the more knowledgeable on local Brazilian culture. Viewers are introduced to various local delicacies, carnivals and, yes, the capoeira, which is a mix of dancing and fight moves invented by African slaves. There’s a lot of great footage capturing wide expanses of beach, as well as mountains, along with accompanying information on the locations. The mighty Iguazu Falls is also featured, complemented by some trivia on its discovery by a Spanish sailor.
In general, this film is like taking a trip to a museum, a zoo and a national park, among other enlightening destinations, giving viewers a glimpse of the country’s rich heritage, including its historical milestones, its impressive architecture, its diamond-mining and its local products like cheese and wine. Naturally, it’s Relax who does most of the talking and the narrating, just like your regular and trustworthy tour guide.
While the duo’s primary purpose for taking the trip – that is, finding the oldest tree – is mentioned every once in a while, this mission somehow gets pushed into the background as the two friends discover Brazilian sights and natural wonders in places like Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Gramado and Salvador, among others. Interestingly, the film also features director Fernando Meirelles, the acclaimed Brazilian filmmaker behind the Academy Award-nominated City of God. And, of course, the entire Brazilian experience wouldn’t be complete without the Amazon River and rainforest, both of which are discussed in detail, from the animals inhabiting them to the tribes and women warriors who roam and protect the area to the folklore and rituals of the region.
Are Stress and Relax able to complete their mission of finding the Pink Jequitiba? As it turns out, the answer to that question is a yes or a no depending on how you look at it but their quest, and the film in general, can be considered a success regardless, in that the titular pair do a great job of educating and informing viewers from all over the world about the wonders and beauty that Brazil has to offer.
Watch Stress & Relax on FilmDoo.com.