“You need more than guts to be a good gangster. You need ideas.”
SYNOPSIS: Two boys growing up in a violent neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro take different paths: one becomes a photographer, the other a drug dealer. – via IMDB
Man, I have been meaning to get to this movie for years and years and just never have, and finally I can cross it off my list. I don’t know about Top Ten Movies of All Time material or anything (which is where I see this movie listed often), but this movie is definitely fantastic and well worth the watch. It is heavy and handled exceptionally well, and comes across as authentic, not some attempt at a sob story from a dangerous area.
First off, City of God does not pussyfoot around in terms of the violence, drug use, and life in the slums. Oh no. You get kids with guns doing drugs and killing people and it is just the way it is, and you get a look at junkies, you see robberies and plenty murder. I have no issue with it, but I think some people might find it a little hardcore. I think it told the story in a gritty, brutal manner, and didn’t sugarcoat things.
City of God has an array of characters, and they are all interesting, all bringing a new facet to the story, and I quite liked that. The story is so interesting and immersive, being told in disjointed chapters which all fit together seamlessly as they are laid out. I was mesmerised from the off. It takes a few minutes to get rolling, but once it catches it barrels right along and it is so good. It is so heavy to see the conditions that people live in, and how the violence and danger was simply accepted as a way of life.
There are some heavy scenes that come up throughout the movie that just get your blood boiling (Li’l Zé, you are a supreme dweeb). Benny is a character you cannot help but like – he is just likeable. Yes, he’s in the whole drug racket and is respected and will do what is necessary, but he is also more level-headed and fair, so the people like him more. Rocket, our main peanut, is in a sticky situation all throughout the movie as he does not want to be either a cop or a hood, and I can’t think you would have a lot of options in the slums. Li’l Zé is a freaking crackpot crazy – no two ways about it o.O
Anyway, City of God benefits from a good cast that presents to us an uncomfortable but important and engrossing story. It is gritty and brutal, authentic and heartfelt. The film is shot well and the score works hand in hand with the visuals to draw you in. You become invested in what you are seeing, and the movie truly provokes viewer engagement throughout. You are fascinated, but you don’t want to be these people. For people uhming and ahing about this because it is subtitled, get over it. The story is awesome and you will hardly be aware of those subtitles.