City Of God (2002)

Like cinematic dynamite, City of God lights a fuse under its squalid Brazilian ghetto, and we're a captive audience to its violent explosion.

CityofgodLike cinematic dynamite, City of God lights a fuse under its squalid Brazilian ghetto, and we're a captive audience to its violent explosion. The titular favela is home to a seething army of impoverished children who grow, over the film's ambitious 20-year timeframe, into cutthroat killers, drug lords, and feral survivors. In the vortex of this maelstrom is L'il Z (Leandro Firmino da Hora--like most of the cast, a nonprofessional actor), self-appointed king of the dealers, determined to eliminate all competition at the expense of his corrupted soul.  

With enough visual vitality and provocative substance to spark heated debate (and box-office gold) in Brazil, codirectors Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund tackle their subject head on, creating a portrait of youthful anarchy so appalling--and so authentically immediate--that City of God prompted reforms in socioeconomic policy. It's a bracing feat of stylistic audacity, borrowing from a dozen other films to form its own unique identity. You'll flinch, but you can't look away. --Jeff Shannon --

Our Take ~- The movie did an effective job of showing how crime and drugs go hand in hand. There is a very realistic progression of crime and drug use in the movie. It starts out with small robberies and getting high. Then, to a bigger and better robbery scheme, that goes terribly wrong. This changes the course of all their lives.

The movie also does a good job of depicting the strong desire younger kids have to fit in and be accepted, and how easily this can lead to a life of drugs and crime. Once they realize it, they are in so deep that it's almost impossible to get out. Another realistic part of the movie is how the dealer can start out for the money. They don't want to live a life of poverty, but soon discover the powerlessness of the addict and the power they have over them.

Although I believe dealers are in it for the money, I also believe that after a period of time it can be more of a power trip. The dealer begins to feel invincible. The movie does a good job of portraying this other aspect of insanity involved in the drug world. This, then contributes to more deaths, more recruits and more drug gangs speeding across the nation. Due to this power trip, no matter how hard officials fight the drug lords, someone is always willing to step in and fill the void.

Finally, the movie shows that no matter how poor or how rough your circumstances are, there is always a way out. Addicts can sometimes feel hopeless and sorry for themselves, but it is ultimately the addicts' decision whether or not they want to continue in the insanity that is their life. How badly do they want to get out. Therefore, I think this was a realistic depiction of drug addiction and how it leads to crime, shame and pain for all who are close to the addict.

WARNING This movie contains violence, brief nudity and strong language.

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