City of God is a film that I rented from MovieLink.Com (which is a video rental site where you download movies directly to your harddrive and then are removed automatically after a given time limit). I was feeling kind of bored tonight and wanted something a little gutsy to watch. Naturally, I turned to the Foreign films section and started browsing. I didn’t have to go too far when this film popped out at me.
This is the short synopsis they provide while browsing a list of films:
In Portuguese with English subtitles. 2004 Academy Award nominee. In Rio de Janeiro’s most notorious slum, a young man tries to escape the violence around him through his photography.
I believe I wrote before about how people always find items from other cultures and environments as the most interesting and popular, so just reading "Portugeuse" and "Rio de Janeiro’s most notorious slum," I was pretty much hooked. Then here is the extended synopsis:
In Portuguese with English subtitles. Welcome to the world’s most notorious slum: Rio de Janeiro’s "City of God." A place where combat photographers fear to tread, where police rarely go, and residents are lucky if they live to the age of 20. This is the true story of a young man who grew up on these streets and whose ambition as a photographer is the world’s window in and ultimately may be his only way out.
That sounded like the movie for me. Any place that scares the police intrigues me, even though I’m not entirely sure if I would venture there myself in the real world. And after watching the movie, I can fully believe that the police wouldn’t want to go in there.
I don’t want to talk more about the storyline, because I think it would take away some of the glory of the film, but I will say that the style of the film was wonderful to watch. The story is built up in layers: some build up, others peel away, which is fascinating to see unfold before you. The action sequences are full of chaotic moments but are filmed in a chaotic way which makes sense to you as you’re watching. This didn’t work out so well in some movies (Bourne Supremacy comes to mind) but is incredible to watch when it does work. The story of the photographer is always present, but plays the role more of narrator than protagonist.
My favourite part of the whole film has to be the ending. The climax feels epic to me, and the denouement is eye-opening. I would like to say more about it, and I’m sure it’ll easily be discovered with a few searches, but I won’t say anything now.
Rent this film. It does contain violence, drugs, some sexuality. Not something to watch with kids, certainly.