Saturday, 23 April 2011

Review - City of God (2002 - Dir. Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund)

This is a gritty Brazilian crime caper set in the heart of the City of God, a deprived and often violent area of Rio de Janeiro. The plot follows the lives of young people living in the shadow of drug dealing and organised crime spanning three decades.

At times it is both violent and disturbing but it's the characterisation that pulls the film out of the quagmire of generic grittiness and into a class of its own. Rocket (Alexandre Rodriguez) is a naive natural as he strives to salvage a positive future from the most savage of environments. The supporting characters, such as Li'l Ze (Leandro Firmino da Hora) and Benny (Phellipe Haagensen) are equally well fleshed out, to such an extent that we can understand if not empathise with their often excessive actions. Many of the cast were actually residents in the film's location and this adds to the natural feel of proceedings. 

Bizarrely this is almost a 'feel good' film for the genre with terrible events shown in stark reality but with ever present seeds of hope sprinkled liberally throughout. Not one for the fainthearted but a rewarding experience nonetheless.

If you like this you could also try:
Amores Perros, Tsotsi, Gomorrah

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