From the opening chicken chase to the closing, bloody gunfights, City of God is a wonder to behold. It will entertain and it will shock in equal measure throughout it's tragic 2 hour running time.
It tells the story of Rocket, who just wants to get by in life. He wants to earn money, lose his virginity and become a photographer. He doesn't want to become a hoodlum, which in the city of God is a hard thing to try and avoid. As we watch events unfold, the lives of a group of hoodlums interact and intertwine with each other.
The performances are brilliant, and as I understand it, all were unknowns. Each character is so detailed and humanised, they feel real. When someone is insulted, you feel insulted with them, when someone is put in a questionable situation, you feel the pressure and influences with them.
What is even more memorable is the tragic consequences the events in this film have on its characters. Some scenes are hard to watch - like when one character has to choose between two different children, and kill one of them to become a part of a gang. Others, like the misunderstanding of main hood Lil Ze and his right hand man which has fatal consequences. It's all vital, and hard to pull your eyes off the screen.
It's a Brazilian film, spoken in a foreign tongue, so you will have to read subtitles, but for a serious film watcher that shouldn't be a problem, as this is an essential film to watch.
It all leads to an expected gang land war - how else do these sort of films end, crime doesn't pay! - that is violent, brutal and soul destroying. It's hard to write the words to explain the vast emotions you feel while watching this film, and is thus indispensible.
The DVD comes with a vague, slightly interesting featurette. But most haunting of all is the words that crop up during the credits: Based on real events.