Dave White
City of Men Review

Dave's Rating:


… a melodramatic message movie …

Who's in It: Douglas Silva, Darlan Cunha, Rodrigo dos Santos

The Basics: Based more on the Brazilian TV show City of Men than a direct sequel to the indie hit City of God, though its setting, the slums of Rio de Janeiro, is identical. It's a human dumping ground, where there are no laws and no one to stop fatherless teenage boys from perpetuating the cycle of violence and broken families while shooting each other in the back over drug-business turf. Let the hand-wringing continue …

What's the Deal? It's easier to watch a melodramatic message movie like this, with its easy-to-connect dots and predictable outcomes, than it is to watch a mind-blowing documentary like Manda Bala, which is basically about the same kind of shocking violence that exists in Brazil now. But City of God made the bed, and now City of Men gets to luxuriate in it. The cry of anguish about the senselessness of the nihilistic subculture it portrays is a little more muted this time around, but the indulgence in that setting's sweaty, bullet-flying glamour makes it almost as cheap and exploitive as the first film.

If You Liked City of God's Flashy, Exciting Style, Here's Why You'll Enjoy This One Less: It's more conventional, less visually manic and more about the sadness of fatherless children than about sexy young adults dancing around between gun battles. The first movie drowns in machine-gun-shell casings and this one in its own sentimentality.

For Fans Of: Boyz N the Hood and the "Stuff White People Like" blog. (See: "Socially conscious indie films in Portuguese." I mean I assume it's made the list by now. It should have.)

What's Good About It: The two lead actors have been playing these characters now for about six years, growing up in front of the camera as their alter-egos. So they have great screen chemistry. Like those kids on Degrassi.


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