By Andrew Russell
City of God is about Rocket, a boy growing up in the slums just outside of Rio de Janeiro, and his childhood friend as they grow into teenagers and take different life paths, one becoming a photographer, and the other a drug lord.
This movie makes me sad for the modern American film industry, because we haven’t produced anything as good as this in years.
One key thing that makes this movie great is its ability to transcend genre and language barriers, as it’s a Brazilian movie and is in Portuguese. It does this by making the characters not only realistic, but you’re able to relate to them and feel for them as if they were real people.
The actors in City of God are great to say the least, from antagonists like Rocket, Lil’ Ze, and Benny, to minor characters who have smaller scenes and aren’t even given names. All of the actors in this movie are amateurs, or have never acted at all, and grew up in the real life City of God, but if anything, that adds to the realism of it all.
The directing in this movie is very unique, and is a perfect example of when its alright to use something other than steady camera work, making it feel like the people are being documented rather than them being actors. One of the opening shots of the movie is a perfect 360 degree shot of what seems to be a gang war, with Rocket in the middle, establishing the setting and the feeling of the movie in a matter of seconds. With this shot the movie easily pulls you in and prepares you for the next two hours.
While the fact that this movie is very realistic is great, it’s also scary at times. Some scenes you don’t want to believe what happened really happened. It can be a bit much for weaker audiences, and the thought that people are capable of certain things and carry themselves with certain mannerisms can be said to be border line disturbing in this movie. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not downsizing this movie for that, and it’s the reason the rating system for movies exists, but some scenes are hard to watch.
On a scale of one to ten, I’ll say this movie is superb, and if you can’t read, I recommend learning how so you can understand the subtitles when you watch this.
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