Like cinematic dynamite, City of God
lights a fuse under its squalid Brazilian ghetto, and we're a captive audience to its violent explosion. The titular favela
is home to a seething army of impoverished children who grow, over the film's ambitious 20-year time frame, into cut-throat killers, drug lords and feral survivors. In the vortex of this maelstrom is L'il Z (Leandro Firmino da Hora--like most of the cast, a non-professional actor), self-appointed king of the dealers, determined to eliminate all competition at the expense of his corrupted soul. With enough visual vitality and provocative substance to spark heated debate (and box-office gold) in Brazil, codirectors Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund tackle their subject head on, creating a portrait of youthful anarchy so appalling--and so authentically immediate--that City of God
prompted reforms in socioeconomic policy. It's a bracing feat of stylistic audacity, borrowing from a dozen other films to form its own unique identity. You'll flinch, but you can't look away. --Jeff Shannon
Australia released, PAL/Region 2.4 DVD: LANGUAGES: Portuguese ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), English ( Subtitles ), ANAMORPHIC WIDESCREEN (1.85:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Documentary, Interactive Menu, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: Fernando Meirelles' City of God is a sweeping tale of how crime affects the poor population of Rio de Janeiro. Though the narrative skips around in time, the main focus is on Cabeleira who formed a gang called the Tender Trio. He and his best friend, Bene (Phelipe Haagensen), become crime lords over the course of a decade. When Bene is killed before he can retire, Little Ze attempts to take out his arch enemy, Sando Cenoura (Matheus Nachtergaele). But Sando and a young gangster named Manu form an alliance and begin a gang war with Little Ze. Amateur photographer Buscape (Alexandre Rodrigues) takes pictures of the brutal crime war, making their story famous. City of God was screened at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.
SCREENED/AWARDED AT: BAFTA Awards, British Independent Film Awards, Camerimage Awards, Cannes Film Festival, Cartagena Film Festival, European Film Awards, Golden Globes, Oscar Academy Awards, Toronto International Film Festival, Vancouver International Film Festival, ...City Of God ( Cidade de Deus )