130 Min | Crime – Drama | August 2002
IMDB Rating: 8.7
Directors: Fernando Meirelles, Katia Lund
Starring: Alexandre Rodrigues, Matheus Nachtergaele, Leandro Firmino
City of God Review: The film revolves around the, ‘City of God,’ a favela (or ghetto) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a horrifying area where drug dealers run the community, and where children killing children is not an uncommon occurrence. The story begins with the early stages of the City of God (in the 1960’s) showing where many of the problems stem from – the extreme poverty, overcrowding etc. Here, in the early stages of the favela, we meet our main characters, along with the supporting cast. The story revolves mainly around two characters living in the favela, Rocket and Lil Ze, and how they take two different paths through life. Rocket’s dream is to become a photographer and to escape the City of God while Lil Ze becomes a powerful gang leader and drug dealer.
The film offers an unflinching look at gang life in the City of God, as it follows the favela through three decades the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, and shows how violence just spirals into more violence with the disturbingly high amounts of violence in the favela, most involving teenagers and children. The direction, cinematography, and editing are all Oscar-worthy. The cinematography is some of the best I have ever seen – with a very visceral, jerky feel, very reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan. The editing is very frantic, which makes you feel like you are on the streets of the City of God, and the direction is flawless, seamlessly blending the many elements of the story.
City of God was definitely one of the best films. The story, the direction, the cinematography, the editing and the acting all add up to make a excellent movie. The cinematic style of the film gives a nod to Tarantino, with some clever time – jumping, freeze – framing, and texts indicating another chapter of the film. In every sense, a bit of a Brazillian “Pulp Fiction” or “Goodfellas”, but with its own unique flavour to it. The City of God is a marvel, and a highly recommended film to watch, but not recommended for the over-sensitive or easily distressed.