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Movie Review: City of God (Ciudade de Deus)

Story: Whew! I am still exhausted from this stylish, fast paced, shocking Brazilian film by first time director Fernando Meirelles.

It is a free wheeling, nonlinear (I do like that technique - it makes you think) film based on a true story about the gangs of children who live in the slums outside of Rio. Screenwriter Braulio Mantovani must have had his hands full adapting this film from the vast novel by Paolo Lin. The film follows a group of children through the 60s, 70s and early 80s. It is a numbing portrayal of the collapse of civilization. It is also mesmerizing to watch. The director uses every trendy film technique in the book - and does it brilliantly. It is a visually stunning film and kudos must be paid to cinematographer Cesar Charlone for his vision.

Be warned -- this is not a film for the faint of heart. You must pay attention or you will miss some of the stories and connections.

Sadly most of these Boys From Brazil will not grow up to be men. This is certainly not the Rio you see depicted in those glossy travel brochures. After seeing this film I have crossed Rio off of my 'to see' list.

Acting: Most of the children in the film were not professional actors which makes this film even more frightening.

Predilections: None. Although I did want to see this film when I heard it was Brazil's official entry into the Oscar race and was also a nominee for the Golden Globe.

Critters: Oh my! The critters do not fare any better than the children. Chickens have a big part in the opening scenes and there are skinny street dogs everywhere.

Food: The aforementioned chicken.

Visual Art: None.

Blatant Product Placement: The Bureau of Tourism is most likely apoplectic from this film.

Soundtrack: Terrific.

Opening Titles: Stark black background with blue type. A real contrast to the sun-drenched colors we are about to experience. The closing credits use the same technique as both Rabbit Proof Fence and The Fast Runner used. They show you the real life characters who were portrayed in the film.

Theater Audience: A few shocked souls.

Sappy Factor: Even I would have liked to have one sappy moment but sadly there were none.

Squirm Scale: I squirmed at the initial violence but eventually became immune (which I am sure is the point).

Predictability Level: Sadly, high.

Oscar Worthy: Yes.

Nit Picking: I wish it were not based on a true story. My heart aches for these lost souls.

Big Screen or Rental: If you can stand it, go for the big screen.

Length: Ten minutes over the two hour LOBO rule.