Bitterly opposed to Hitler's war, young German Johann (Ketnath) has fled the draft to Brazil, where he drives from village to village peddling the "miracle cure" of aspirin. Along the way, he meets hitcher Ranulpho (Miguel), a man whose contempt for the Brazilian outback is equal to Johann's love of it. An unlikely friendship develops between these two nomadic outcasts, but the reality of war eventually intervenes, forcing Johann to make a difficult decision about his future.
This minimalist drama about two drifters traveling in the desert-like environs of rural Brazil has a touching delicacy, emphasizing quiet moments and soul-searching dialogue over adventurous interludes. Debut helmer Gomes has a knack for directing these characters' very different temperaments, with Miguel's droll sourness playing perfectly off Ketnath's pacifistic certainty. Mauro Pinheiro's photography is exemplary, too, making the sun-baked nether regions of drought-afflicted Brazil look miraculously inviting. "Vultures" is an uncommonly thoughtful period piece.