Lower City appealed for the usual reasons: I read some positive reviews, and I love the Latin American/Spanish genre. Touted as a "sexy" film, the dvd cover has quotes such as "Steaminess and sexiness abound" (The Guardian) "Sultry, sweaty" (The Times) and yes, there is plenty of highly-charged passion from the three very convincing protagonists. But don't be misled: this a love story, a love triangle that even seems to take the characters by surprise.
Deco and Naldhino are lifelong best friends and co-owners of a small boat. On a trip down the river to Salvador del Bahia, they strike a deal to give a ride to a young prostitute, Karinna, paying for her services on the journey. A scene that takes place the following morning shows Karinna sitting on the dock, painting her toe-nails. Naldhino and Deco are unloading produce from their boat and she glances over her shoulder at them. The moment suggests a contentment, but it's also the signpost where you want to call out " Say good-bye now. Go your seperate ways. Ahead is jealousy, obsesssion and violence." But it's already too late. Once Karinna made the decision to board the boat, their collective fate was sealed.
The inevitable turmoil ensues, and as the narrative progresses, there's a sense that the three can't function without each other, even though this makes everyone unhappy. The oddly uplifting aspect of the situation they find themselves in, is a mutual support and therefore survival, in the decrepit volatility of Salvador. I don't want to give more away, but a major crisis prompts questions: can there be a long term future spent together, or must they be apart?
The dvd cover states that Lower City is a "powerful and erotic fusion of "City of God", "y tu mama tambien", and Truffaut's "Jules et Jim." I'd agree with this, and I'll definitely watch it again. If you go for those titles, you'll go for this too.