Cidade dos Homens (2007) Poster

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When the background takes over
debblyst16 September 2007
Following the cult Brazilian TV series "City of Men" (2002-2005), Acerola (Douglas Silva) and Laranjinha (Darlan Cunha), two orphaned, teenage street kids living in Morro da Sinuca (one of Rio's 800+ favelas), are now about to turn eighteen and face the issues of adulthood. Fatherhood -- in a social milieu where most kids grow up fatherless -- is the key theme here: Acerola is now a teen dad who has to take care of his baby boy when his teen wife moves to São Paulo to work as a babysitter; and Laranjinha is on the search of the identity of his unknown father, only to discover he's alive and is an ex-convict on parole. On the background, the violent, destitute, lawless, drug-gang controlled life in Rio's favelas.

A sort of mix of Fernando Meirelles' (co-producer here) "City of God" in visual style and "Oliver Twist" in spirit, one of the major problems of "City of Men" is its contrived plot solutions: we have to deal with Acerola's impossibly fast finding of Laranjinha's father whereabouts. And Acerola's grandmother ending up homeless and abandoned by her family (in the film's phoniest solution). And trafficker Nefasto suddenly changing sides in the gang war; and Acerola's one-chance-in-a-million spotting trafficker Fiel still alive, and the phony solution linking Acerola's and Laranjinha's fathers in the past, etc.

Director Paulo Morelli -- who made the practically unseen "Preço da Paz" and the insipid "Viva Voz", and directed some episodes of the "City of Men" TV series -- comes from the publicity world, and it certainly shows. His images are (too) soigné: the black bodies have a golden shine, with pearly sweat drops and blazingly white teeth. He adopts cinéma-vérité style (in the camera-work, dialog, performances), now de rigueur in films dealing with "stark realities". Oscar-nominated editor Daniel Rezende ("City of God", "Motorcycle Diaries") tries to keep things moving fast so we don't have time to think about plot holes and contrivances. Antonio Pinto's music is beautiful but inexplicably old-fashioned for a movie about teenagers. On a positive note, the sound design and effects are superb.

The cast -- most of them from the TV series -- is asked to do more of the same. Douglas Silva (Acerola) relies on his intuitive acting and his big, expressive fish face. Jonathan Haagensen (as drug lord Madrugadão) again acts with his pout and bare torso in his usual laid back bad-boy style, looking suitably stoned. Babu Santana does his usual scenery-chewing in a bit as a trafficker. Camila Monteiro, Luciano Vidigal (a sensitive actor with an impossible part) and others repeat their TV roles. Eduardo BR as Nefasto suggests a blooming talent; Rodrigo dos Santos as Laranjinha's father has a great movie face, and first-timers Pedro Henrique (Caju) and Naíma Silva (Camila) are sensitively directed. The best is Darlan Cunha as Laranjinha: no-nonsense, nonplussed, witty and resourceful, his deadpan acting is the essence of the "carioca cool".

But there's something bothersome about "Cidade dos Homens": it's hard to concentrate on Acerola's sex troubles or Laranjinha's unlikely instant attachment to his shady father (are Rio's street kids really this naive?) when characters like Caju (the dim-witted, glamor-seeking teenager who joins the drug gang) or those really original characters -- the teenage girls that have "upgraded" from "gangsta molls" to becoming gangstas themselves -- screamed for attention and development. The fact is it's weird to take "City of Men" for its face value, i.e. a buddy-buddy movie with the favela drug war on the background, though we all know ordinary life somehow always goes on even in the most violent, crude realities.

By focusing on the personal problems of Acerola and Laranjinha, director Morelli and writer Elena Soárez ("House of Sand", "Eu Tu Eles", lending a sensitive touch to what could have been a stolid buddy movie) choose to concentrate on plot and characters, using a lot of big close-ups of the kids' faces so we won't be distracted by the hellish favela background -- and yet the "background" jumps right on our laps. Poverty, segregation, racism, drugs, guns and violence, the absence of schools, hospitals, formal employment or government assistance, the dire conditions of life in the favelas that affect over one million people in Rio are, in fact, the cause of most of Acerola and Laranjinha's "personal" problems. Maybe one day we'll all be desensitized enough to take that sort of background as routine scenery, but not right yet.

"City of Men" has a major asset, anyhow: the final scene is lyrical, ingenious and filled with humor -- it's a great finale for the successful series that dared put on Brazilian TV favela teenagers as protagonists, teenagers who usually just show up in movies and TV (and, many times, and tragically, in real life) as traffickers, junkies, thieves or corpses.
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Excellent Continuation of the TV Series, but not as good as 'God'
EA_72812 February 2008
The film City of Men is a fantastic Brazilian film. It's directed by the same creator of City of God and the City of Men TV series. Now, personally, I recommend you watch the TV series before watching the movie due to many flashbacks throughout the film. The TV series also adds more depth to the characters that add to the overall enjoyment of the film. The film is still set in the favelas in Rio, but instead of focusing on the gangs as in City of God, it focuses on two 18 year old boys. The film is similar to City of God, but with a more light-hearted feel to it. The film also has similar cinematography. Overall, I prefer City of God to this film, but it is a worthy follow up to a fantastic film. 9 stars out of 10 in relation to City of God, but as a film in general, compared to the majority of films created this would deserve 10 stars.
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Sensitive and emotive movie
Welington Santos2 September 2007
I just saw it and despite of the rough theme is a sensitive and emotive movie, very different from City of God. City of God was frenetic, full of effects, City of Men is more traditional and the narrative is more conventional. The traffic and the violence is in the background, the theme here is the paternity. Acting is first class, music is melodious and integrate to the scenes, photograph is similar to City of God. Above the summary: Laranjinha and Acerola are preparing themselves to adult life! At the age of 18, each boy has his own problems: Child, women, family, job, forgotten wishes and dreams are some of this adventure's spices, which, to add another pinch of thrill, tells about a war on the hill that will expel the young adults from their community. Will be definite all those changes?
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Not for everyone, but yet another important film educating all of us that we have a lot to be grateful for!
meeza14 November 2009
Director Fernando Meirelles' Brazilian gang warfare epic "City of God" made its mark in cinematic history as the premier film on depicting the horrors of drug trafficking & gang violence in Rio, Brazil's favelas. So why not a "city pass" on a sequel? A few years after the "City of God" fame, Meirelles and other collaborators including Director Paulo Morelli decided to produce a Brazilian TV episodic series entitled "City of Men" on the same premise. They casted young Brazilian actors Douglas Silva and Darlan Cunha as two charismatic best friends living their lives in spite of all the gang warfare that surrounds them in Rio's favelas. The series was a success, and the time to hit the silver screen came calling to the story of "City of Men". Even though "City of Men" does not involve the same characters of "City of God", it still does incorporate the same themes of it predecessor including: friendship, loyalty, drugs, poverty, violence, and survival. However, the overlying theme of "City of God" was drug trafficking with all the aforementioned as background themes. While the forefront of "City of Men" is the young protagonists' quest to find their unknown fathers with all the aforementioned also incorporated as background themes. "City of Men" does not excel in masterful storytelling and character development as "City of God" but it does hit the mark on the survival fortitude of its main protagonists. Meirelles only served as producer this time around and wisely transplanted the talents of Director Morelli and stars Silva & Cunha to the big screen adaptation. All of them hit the mark with their efforts. Even though many of the themes are terrifying and at sporadic times disturbing to look at, "City of Men" continues to keep it rio on the realities of a drug & gang induced life in Rio's favelas. **** Good
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A tender and deeply affecting story
Howard Schumann3 March 2008
It has been estimated that 19 percent of the population of Rio de Janeiro live in favelas, shanties crowded onto hillsides not far from luxurious apartments and world famous beach resorts. Notorious breeding grounds for poverty, drug addiction, and gang warfare, the favelas with their picturesque street names such as Dead End Hill, have been the subject of critically acclaimed films such as Hector Babenco's Pixote and Fernando Meirelles' City of God. Based on a long running television series that ran on Brazilian TV Globo for four years and was watched by 35 million viewers, Paolo Morelli's City of Men is a follow-up to the more flashy Meirelles film. While it lacks the earlier work's kinetic energy, it is more emotionally satisfying and has characters that we care about.

The film focuses on two friends, both turning 18 and without fathers. The two boys, Acerola and Laranjinha, (given Americanized names Ace and Wallace in the subtitles) have unresolved father issues. Wallace is trying to locate the father he never knew and Ace wants to find out how and why his father was killed. Actors Douglas Silva and Darlan Cunha both appeared in the TV series and footage from the TV series is used for flashbacks in the film, shown in a faded color palette. Both are natural actors who do a remarkable job. Ace, though only 18, lives with his wife Cris (Camilla Monteiro) in one of the shanties and is the father of a young boy named Clayton (Vinicius Oliveira). Ace is immature enough to leave Clayton alone on the beach in an early sequence but must grow up quickly and assume complete responsibility for Clayton's care when Cris takes a job in Sao Paolo.

Shot by cinematographer Adriano Goldman who provides sweeping panoramas of the hills, mountains, and beaches, the film begins on the top of Dead End Hill on a day so brutally hot I could feel the sweat gathering on my forehead. Gang members with handguns and automatic weapons led by Midnight (Jonathan Haagensen) decide to head down to the ocean, establishing a perimeter of guards who tell the cops that they are on route. The emotional center of the film is the relationship between Wallace and his newly discovered father Heraldo played with strength and dignity by Rodrigo Dos Santos. Heraldo is out on parole after having served fifteen years of a twenty year sentence for robbery and murder. The circumstances of the murder that he committed becomes a central issue in the relationship between Ace and Wallace and secrets about both of their fathers' pasts threaten their friendship and lead to their involvement on different sides of a new eruption of gang violence.

Somewhat melodramatic but never manipulative or false, City of Men transcends the familiar format of hand-held camera hyperactivity and gangster clichés to become a tender and deeply affecting story about abandoned children and how the cycle is repeated from one generation to the next. While the film explodes into warfare between rival gangs led by Midnight and Fasto (Eduardo BR), it is devoid of typical heavily stylized and frenetic violence. Ace and Wallace are characters we get to know and identify with. We want them to defy the odds and survive until adulthood though the tragic history of life in the Rio slums is never far from our mind.
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Inheriting the Sins of Our Fathers
evanston_dad18 November 2008
"City of Men" is a companion piece to Fernando Meirelles' 2002 film "City of God," but it's a much different animal from the earlier film. Both are set in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, and both are about young men fashioning lives for themselves out of the only resources available to them. But whereas "City of God" was kinetic, angry and immediate, "City of Men" is more reflective and conventional, and it comes to a much more hopeful conclusion than the earlier film.

"City of Men" is by far the weaker of the two. The carefully crafted screenplay was full of the heavy themes and plot twists of a Shakesperean tragedy, but I found myself missing the unscripted, documentary-like feel of Meirelles' film. "City of Men" is about the absence of fathers, and about two friends who find themselves fighting on opposite sides because of deeds committed by their own dads -- sons literally inheriting the sins of their fathers. But the script is too often heavy handed, and the director, Paulo Morelli, chooses to communicate too much about the lives of these people through blunt exposition. We don't learn about them from what the actors playing them do or how they act, but rather through the lines they read, and we're almost always aware that they're reading lines.

Nevertheless, the acting is strong enough that I found myself caring for the two leads and fairly engrossed in how their stories turned out. Morelli isn't as accomplished a director as Meirelles, but the film is still well directed on its own more modest terms. If I didn't already have "City of God" to compare it to, I might have liked it even more.

Grade: B+
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Fatherhood and Friendship
Claudio Carvalho5 May 2008
In the slum in Morro da Sinuca, a couple of days before turning eighteen year-old, Laranjinha (Darlan Cunha) tells his best friend and also orphan Acerola (Douglas Silva) that he misses his unknown father. Acerola decides to help his needy friend to find his father and they discover that he is in prison convicted for killing a man during a robbery and near to be released on parole. Meanwhile, Acerola's wife and babysitter Cris (Camila Monteiro) is invited to work in São Paulo and she sees the chance to raise money to buy a house of her own; she tells Acerola that he must take care of their son Clayton alone for one year. When the owner of the hill and Laranjinha's cousin Madrugadão (Jonathan Haagensen) is betrayed by his right-hand Nefasto (Eduardo BR), he is expelled from the slum and Laranjinha and Acerola have also to leave the hill. While Madrugadão plots a plan to invade and recover the hill with the support of the gang of the drug lord from Morro do Careca, Acerola and Laranjinha unravel the past of their fathers.

"Cidade dos Homens" follows the success of "Cidade de Deus" showing the life in one of the slums of Rio de Janeiro through the personal drama of the two lead teenagers, having as background the war between the rival gangs. The story is very realistic and the cast is amazingly natural in their performances, therefore the work of the writers and the director Paulo Morelli are awesome. The cinematography is also top-notch, with landscapes from the hill and well-choreographed and impressive action scenes in the slum. The producers certainly have an agreement with the real drug lords and owner of the hill to shoot this great movie. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Cidade dos Homens" ("City of the Men")
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Some people live for a better and easier life, some live for a better and easier death.
Warning: Spoilers
In this feature film adaptation of the Brazilian TV-Series City of Men, story is taking us to the early beginnings of the gangs of Rio De Janeiro in City of God. However, gangs are no more underdogs. They erect a reign of anarchy only because they don't have nothing else to do, and because they feel good when they commit anarchy. Their families are torn apart, schools are on strike, communities are swept by crime. Gangs are rebels without a cause, anyhow.

Since these people are ignorant, they are fooled and taken in easily to crime. As the story progresses through an 18-year-old kid's look of life, he is seeking his father who has left home when he's born. Then he finds out that his father was a criminal and currently is a fugitive. Even though the kid still chose his father's side and got against his dearest friend.

The plot is in the hands of an adapted screenplay which is inadequate to bear it. There is a terminated friendship between two old mucker, and one is shot by the other. Also in order to possess a hill which has a good scenic sea view, two friends get against each other just to have more injunctive power and authority over the same community of their own. Here the screenplay should have been effective, but it's not. So we fall into clatters of people defending their thoughts. We never find out the truth which side is right, which side is not; and there is no clarity. Both sides cannot be right at the same time, and if both sides are wrong then the story is self-defeating, and thus the story-teller is wrong, and if the story-teller is wrong, then we are mistaken to watch this complete nonsense.

There is a dead end story you're running into. Leaders of the two enemy gangs are getting killed, at the end. Revenges are turned into vendettas. While a little dispute became a war, in the middle of the war, our leading role heroes are escaping out of it, with an infant boy.

Once he has already seen the grim face of the war, Baby Clayton will never stop crying.
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Fathers and sons
Chris Knipp10 March 2008
This sepia-sunbleached feature derives from, and features the same main characters as, the eponymous 2002-2005 Brazilian TV series about (mostly) boys in the "favela" hill ghettos above Rio for which Morelli did some of the writing and directing. The series, starring Darlan Cunha as Laranjinha (Wallace) and Douglas Silva as Acerola (Ace) --growing up from year to year and episode to episode--sort of grew out of the Fernando Meirelles/Kátia Lund film, 'City of God,' which in turn was based on Paulo Lins' tumultuous and partly autobiographical novel about three decades in the slums and the involvement of youth as dealers, assassins, and victims. Actually the Ace/Wallace characters as young teenagers, always played by Silva and Cunha, predate 'City of God' by two years; they appeared in a short film called 'Palace II' in 2000. The history of these films and stories is as intricate as the world they depict. Douglas Silva was the prepubescent tough in 'City of God' known by he moniker Dadinho--Lil' Dice.

'City of Men' is warmer and more intimate than the original film. 'City of God' has been both admired for its virtuosity--it's full of tours de force of visual violence and equally brilliant feats of rapid storytelling--and condemned as reveling too much in blood and gore, making teenage killers who terrorize neighborhoods into little glamor boys. That's quite true. It's unfortunately also true that in the ghettos of Rio as of other places such as the USA, young gun-toting drug dealers are the sexy local pop stars. Maybe the earlier film fails to take a sufficiently clear moral stand, or too much reflects the viewpoints of the young favela males it depicts. Nonetheless it's exhilarating film-making. Paradoxically, it also has a more positive arc than 'City of Men,' because its hero works his way out of the slums and into mainstream Rio de Janeiro to become a photojournalist. In 'City of Men,' nothing like that happens. Instead, there is a difficult reconciliation between the two boys, on the brink of eighteen, despite a stunning revelation about their lost fathers, and one of the fathers comes back into the picture and, reluctantly at first, chooses to be a warm presence in the life of his son. Both of the boys endure moments of terrible loneliness and isolation, which reveal how isolating the world of shifting and dangerous loyalties and hills fought for and lost is for a boy who in the first place lacks parents. But the focus is on the reconciliations.

In the TV series, the boys are in school. They face difficulties even showing up, and only one of them, Ace (Silva) really hits the books (he's also fascinated by guns of all kinds). Laranjinha is closer to turning into a young hood.

Thugh the new movie 'City of Men' is less specific than the TV series (judging by the DVD collections of episodes that I've seen) and suffers a bit by comparison with either it or 'City of God,' the vibrancy of the life on offer in all these films is still unmistakable, as well as the attractiveness of the young actors, the warmth of the world evoked--and vernacular swiftness that of the filming and editing, which somehow is both relaxing and unnerving.

Wallace/Laranjinha is trying to find out who his real father is; he doesn't want "unknown" to be on the place for "father" on his papers. Acerola knows his father is dead, and he wants to know what happened. He's faced with the local problem from the other side. His wife Cris (Camila Monteiro) keeps leaving their toddler son Clayton (Vinicius Oliveira) with him to take care of. He doesn't want to accept the responsibility. But if he reneges on it, he'll leave Clayton in the same place he and Wallace are in. Ace abandons Clayton on the beach early on when Madrugadão (Midnight, Jonathan Haagensen), the gang leader of the hill where they live, risks assassination to descend on a super-hot day for a swim in the ocean. He also turns some flashy cartwheels and shows off his spectacular pecs. Madrugadão, like Wallace (i.e. Darlan Cunha), is handsome and charismatic. Ace is so childish he forgets his own son; but he rushes back and finds him. And when Cris gets a job in the wealthier city of São Paulo, Ace, with great difficulty, forces himself to take on the responsibility of raising Clayton.

Wallace (perhaps a bit too easily) finds his father, a bearded man named Heraldo (Rodrigo dos Santos), who has just gotten out of prison after serving fifteen years of a twenty-year sentence--for murder. Heraldo's beard cannot conceal the fact that he is not very mature. He hasn't shouldered the responsibilities of being a man. But he also carries the weight of suffering and gratitude.

When rival gang leader Fasto (Eduardo "BR" Piranha) takes over Midnight's territory on Dead End Hill, a new gang war breaks out right in the middle of Ace and Wallace's journey of self-discovery.

'City of Men' is a more tender, individual and grownup story than 'City of God'; from what I've seen of the TV series it grows out of, it's less specific and less witty. It works as a kind of antidote to the amorality one feels in 'City of God,' and its warmth is touching. Nor is it visually ineffective, or its sense of the milieu less rich--except. Except that it quite lacks the momentum and adrenaline-rush brilliance of 'City of God's' virtuoso film-making and editing, or the rich range of minor characters the latter has. It is a little bit meandering, and its fast jump-cut slides from scene to scene sometimes seem out of place. As the AV Club reviewer says, much has been gained in this new film, but much has been lost as well. Still 'City of Men' is well worth watching.
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God help us . . .
jdesando23 February 2008
"Poverty, to be picturesque, should be rural. Suburban misery is as hideous as it is pitiable." Anthony Trollope

Whew! I'm out of breath following youth gangs in the favela of Rio as they fight for a city hill as if they were in WWII's Pork Chop battle. Machine guns rule; women do not (contrary to the stereotype of matriarchal Latin society). It may not be City of God, the frenetic precursor using two of the same actors, but it has the Battle of Algiers' claustrophobia, which had a better-appointed Kasbah yet the same feeling of people darting around corners to avoid ever present Death.

The two central characters, teenage boys trying to keep their friendship and families in tact while around them chaos rules, veer between themselves and annihilation as they fight off the temptation to carry weapons like their friends yet can't find a way to survive without guns. There is more, however, than just gang warfare because sub-textually director/writer Paulo Morelli identifies a root cause of the dislocations—absentee fathers. (Heck, even the current Spiderwick uses this powerful ingredient.) Much of the film is dedicated to one of the boys finding his father and the other coming to terms with the murder of his. While the former is adequately explored, the latter could have used much more explanation for the boy's suddenly joining the gang's war. Could it have been the murder of his father? I can't tell you.

The requisite hillside shots of the Rio harbor help the figurative contrast between the rich Brazilian scenery and the squalor of the barrio. Both conditions, of course, help to emphasize the globally accurate distance between the have's and the have not's, a condition the present economic global downturn is exacerbating. City of Men is a city of all men, racing through the labyrinth of life trying to survive, and losing.

City of God is a movie that contradicts its name; City of Men is spot on—God help us.
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Not quite like the first film
johnslegers2 April 2010
"Citade de Deus" ("City of God") was a Brazilian masterpiece telling the story about the gang wars in the Brazilian favelas (slums) during the '70s from the perspective of a boy who wants to become a journalist. Based on a true story, it gives you a quite realistic impression of what it was like to live back then in one of the most dangerous places on earth.

After the success of "Citade de Deus", Kátia Lund and Fernando Meirelles, (the directors) created a series called "Cidade dos Homens" ("City of God") based on the same concept taking place in the present which in 2007 was turned into another feature length film with the same title.

As I haven't seen the series I cannot judge it, but the film "Cidade dos Homens" was not nearly as good as the first. Telling the story of two friends growing up in the Rio favelas, the film starts out real slow and never manages to become nearly as compelling as "Citade de Deus" was. Certainly, the fighting between the two rivaling gangs is exciting to watch but this only but a small part of the film and the rest of it consists of little more than the two friends trying to survive and maintain their friendship. There is little depth in any of the other characters and this makes the film fairly pointless to watch for anyone who's already seen "Citade de Deus". While not a bad film by any standards, but it's by no means better than mediocre either. I expected more from the people who brought us "Citade de Deus". Was this a cheap attempt to get some easy money?!?
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Cidade Dos Local Gangsters
Chrysanthepop25 October 2009
Having not seen 'Cidade de Deus' nor the original TV series of which this movie is a continuation, as a stand alone I found 'Cidade dos Homens' to be quite satisfying. It kept me hooked from start to finish. Paula Morelli also gives great attention to detail and captures the local life in Rio de Janeiro quite realistically. With the backdrop of a local gang war, at the core of the film lies the friendship between Laranjinha and Acerola. Their friendship is put to test when the gangwar erupts and the identities of their fathers are discovered.

The cinematography is mostly done with a hand-held digital camera that gives a spacious feel while also stressing on the dense mazelike streets of the hills. The lighting stresses on the heavy heat of Rio de Janeiro. Music also works well with the story. The overall acting is very good with young actor Douglas Silva topping the cast.

'Cidade De Deus' has heart and the strength lies in the storytelling. The portrayal of corruption and poverty in Brasil is effectively portrayed. It shows how people are surviving everyday and how even the smallest 'mistake' can risk losing their lives.
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Unfortunately, City of God casts a long shadow.
EXodus25X3 July 2008
Despite what I had heard, this was in no way a sequel to City of God, post viewing I have learned that it is a follow-up to a TV series. Still, this film will be constantly compared to City of God, so let's get that out of the way first. City of God makes City of Men look like a day at the park, at times it is hard to imagine that both stories share a common location. In a world where City of God does not existed City of Men would shine brighter, unfortunately for this film that is not the case, it is a constant reminder of a superior film. Both films do share amazing cinematography, no matter how many times and in how many movies I see shots of Morro da Sinuca, I am always amazed by it's vastness and unique beauty. Also both films acting, if it can be called that, goes beyond acting to a feeling of capturing real life as it happens. City of Men dives deeper into the lives of individual characters, allowing us to see how a generational cycle has created and sustained this type of environment for it's people. I walk away from this film feeling grateful for living where I live and that tomorrow I'll have to chose between Coke or Pepsi not life or death.
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a smashing drama
Roland E. Zwick12 July 2009
"City of Men" is a feature film version of a blockbuster series that ran on Brazilian TV from 2002 to 2005. It is also a sequel of sorts to the earlier "City of God," an award-winning movie directed by Fernando Meirelles.

Paul Morelli's "City of Men" focuses on Laranjinha (Darlan Cunha) and Acerola (Douglas Silva), two honorable teens who are struggling to make a decent life for themselves in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. The former is searching for the father he's never known, while the latter is only beginning to learn what it means to be a father to his own son. Their personal story is set against the backdrop of a violent turf-war between two rival gangs that are battling it out for preeminence in the city.

"City of Men" reveals its origins as a TV series in the novelistic approach it takes to storytelling and character development. From the beginning, we feel as if we have been thrust into the midst of a story "already in progress." With little explanatory background, the screenplay (by Elena Soarez) introduces us all at once to a multiplicity of characters, whose relationships with one another we are forced to pick up almost on the fly as it were. This allows us to become both an observer of and an active participant in the drama that unfolds.

Certainly, one of the most important characters in the movie is the city itself, since it is this very environment of poverty, hopelessness and violence that, in large measure, determines the kinds of lives these people will lead and the types of futures they will have.

Morelli's directorial style is up-close-and-personal in the more intimate moments, and vivid and exciting in the pulse-pounding "action" sequences. The sense of immediacy that he and cinematographer Adriano Goldman bring to the work acts as an effective counterweight to some of the more melodramatic elements that creep into the screenplay towards the end.

With excellent performances and a surprising amount of optimism given its generally depressing milieu and setting, "City of Men" is a tale of friendship and adult responsibility that will move the spirit and touch the heart.
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a logical ending of the TV show
dragokin26 February 2013
I've been mesmerized by the TV Show City of God and it was clear that i must see the movie that would end it. Well, i haven't been disappointed.

Within the surroundings we've seen in the TV show, there is a lot of going on. Laranjinha, Acerola and their friends are growing up. Madrugadão has everything under control, or so he thinks as the appetite of some of his gang members grows.

A lot of unexpected things will occur, but favela will witness silently as they all come and go. In a way this is a logical ending of the TV show. Some characters strive to exit favela and some succeed while others merely exit their lives.
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Solid, but not scintillating
paul2001sw-129 September 2011
'City of God' was a visceral epic, a tale of the slummification of a Brazillian new suburb and the consequences of this story for the lives of those who lived there. 'City of Men' is a loose sort of follow up, with a different director, and it's a lesser film, without Fernando Meirelles' scintillating direction. More than anything else, the story suffers because its protagonists are so clearly innocents caught up in events beyond their control; while it's still an effective portrayal of the harshness of life in the favella, it lacks the sense of individual responsibility that is usually a necessary part of the most powerful drama. Which is not to say that it's a bad film, making good use of the dramatic setting of Rio de Janeiro, and conveying well not just the brutality, but also the fragility, of a life lived at the margins.
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City of Men
JoeytheBrit17 June 2009
I expected this to be a sequel to City of God, but evidently it is a conclusion of sorts to the Brazilian TV series that was created as a result of the first film. Certinly the style of film-making is different to City of God, but its subject matter, setting and gritty style are all pretty much the same.

Douglas Silva and Darlan Cunha play friends on the cusp of manhood who, as they approach their eighteenth birthdays, dwell upon the meaning and importance of fatherhood. Laranjinha (Cunha) misses the father he has never known who was imprisoned for murder before his son was born, while Ace (Silva) is struggling to come to terms with fatherhood. Ace decides to help Laranjinha track down his father (now released from prison) but it is a decision that will threaten to destroy their friendship.

The main plot takes place amidst a feudal gang war which, in all honesty, is far more compelling than the domestic problems of the two young protagonists and the film's most compelling performance comes from Jonathan Haagensen as gang leader Midnight. Set amongst the narrow, maze-like alleyways of the Rio slums, it is this gangland storyline that feels both more authentic and appropriate than the problems of the boys, the resolution of which feels too rushed in the film's final reel.

The quality of the film-making is beyond dispute, however. Given that this is the final act of a TV series that ran for many years it is to the writers' credit that the viewer isn't confused by the events described or by the references to an unfamiliar past.
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Mike B4 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Quite an interesting movie - filmed in an almost 'cinema-verite' style. It is extremely authentic. The slums (or favelas of Rio), the dialogue, the gang members, the innocent by-standers are all depicted with a reality, that if it were not for the poverty, grimness and violence, would be considered refreshing. From that point of view it is much like 'City of God' but less nihilistic and the focus in this movie only centers on Rio de Janeiro. There is a positive out-look in that both the central characters are concerned with fatherhood; one is already a father and both do not know their real fathers (although this changes during the film). This creates a counter-balance to the slum and gang warfare.

It took me awhile to understand or pick up on the storyline – one must pay close attention during the first 30-40 minutes to the characters and dialogue. I realized after, when I watched the DVD out-takes, that this was based on a TV series so that may be a reason for those difficulties.
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not as good as City of God
SnoopyStyle25 September 2015
It's the Dead End Hill slums in Rio de Janeiro. Best friends Acerola and Laranjinha are turning 18 growing up without fathers. Orphan Acerola helps Laranjinha discover his father in prison who is on the verge of being paroled. Acerola's wife leaves him with his son Clayton. Then babysitter Cris leaves and he is angry to do the work of a mother. Meanwhile the gangs are ramping up the conflicts and betrayal as the hills descend into all out war.

I don't see the characters that compelling. None of them intrigue me. I don't really care about them. This is often compared to "City of God" due to some of the same actors. While it takes place in the same slums, the tension feels manufactured. It's got more action but it doesn't have the same grittiness. Something seems to be sanitized or beautified. It's great to return to these places but it's not quite the same.
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Good but not great
TA Kristof17 November 2014
At times this movie is very powerful and really makes the reality of Brazil's slums come alive. The characters struggle with broken families and shattered dreams, and join gangs because there are few other realistic options. Even though the film is fictional, it is sad to see because there is truth behind it.

At other times the movie feels very ham-handed, as the characters deal with themes that have been in many movies before. Fathers who come back, sons who push against them. Most of the characters are not well-defined and lack depth and motivation.

I would recommend the movie, but it is not as good as some other Brazilian films about life in the favelas, namely City of God.
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Aggressive end to a TV series falls short of its inspired predecessor
Marc Israel19 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
While the world is aware of City Of God, it's TV spin off finale on the big screen is less wordily, and as our characters are defined by the favelas and roles found there, their plot is caged in by the need for a TV summary. That being laid out does not take away from the bold finale, its' bing filmed in Rocina, the beautiful dichotomy of Rio's favelas atop the glorious beaches with the Dois Irmaos creating an intoxicating view which can never be lived up to into reality. Our actors do their best, but our king of the hill and his number two split over nothing and yet everyone knows a war is on? How is this possible? How are we viewers to then move forward with lost and found fathers who also have a life altering history? Ech characters story viewed separately makes for good TV episodes, but sewn together on the big screen is hard to digest. Loved the use of older footage where most movies create something that we have to try hard top believe, here, an inherited audience was held at bay by the handcuffs of aggressive plot lines. Thank god I'm still passionate enough about Brasil to look past this to enjoy a picturesque favela gangster movie with lesser expectations than those hooked on the show.
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Better appreciated after a second viewing
Johnny058112 March 2014
I remember when I first saw this movie in 2008, I walked into it heavily comparing it with "City of God" and expecting to see the same fast-pace storytelling, same witty dialogue and same amount of violence C.O.G. had. About 30 minutes into this movie I started to realize that this movie was a completely different animal, although with many of the same actors and same director serving as one of the executive producers. Needless to say, I walked out of this movie heavily disappointed. Fast forward to six years later, the movie is now out of Netflix and by now I have had more than my fair share of Brazilian reality-based films such as "Elite Squad" and "Elite Squad 2" among other Brazilian films which take place in the infamous Rio favelas. After watching it a second time and taking it for what it is, I now appreciate the art of this movie much more.

The movie touches not only on poverty but also on young unplanned parenthood, the responsibilities and obligations that come with it, on different types of loyalty and betrayal, forgiveness of oneself and others and it shows you the true meaning of friendship. Rather than focusing on the violent setting itself and on carnage and violence like C.O.G. did, those things take a backseat and the movie shows you the real people who inhabit the favelas. It's a story of friendship, survival, and the choices people make when they don't have a choice.

I am not familiar with the TV series, as I never got a chance to watch a single episode, but I can tell that this movie faithfully and successfully translated the story to the silver screen while keeping the essence of the original characters. If you like true slice of life dramas, City of Men surely delivers the goods.

Overall I give City of Men 8 out of 10.
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Enjoyable follow-up to 'City of God'...
ajs-1020 September 2011
This is the follow-up to one of my favourite films, City of God (2002). It continues the theme of life in the poorer parts of Rio and takes a closer look at how things are today. I really enjoyed it, although it doesn't have the depth of 'City of God', I still found the simple storytelling quite refreshing. I had better warn those scared of subtitles that it is in Portuguese with the dreaded words at the bottom of the screen. Here's a brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

Two friends, Acerola and Laranjinha are turning eighteen. Acerola is already married and has a son, Clayton. Laranjinha is less than content because he doesn't know who his father is. They both live on 'Dead End Hill', an area that is run by a gang lead by a character known as Midnight. Whilst talking about their plight one day a plan is hatched to discover just who Laranjinha's father is. They ask around and eventually get a lead, but I think it would be giving too much away if I told you any more about this. Meanwhile, one of Midnight's lieutenants defects to another gang and they decide they want to move into 'Dead End Hill'. Who will survive? Will Laranjinha find his father? As you can probably guess, I'm not going to tell you here of the Spoiler Police will be finding my corpse in the quarry.

Beautifully shot, I love the grainy look and feel to this film. It's almost like it was filmed on a home movie camera in places, but it still has a professional feel to it. Although it's quite hard to judge a performance in a foreign language, I must give praise to the young leads; Douglas Silva as Acerola and Darlan Cunha as Laranjinha. I thought they were both excellent.

This film will always be compared to 'City of God', but it doesn't have the epic scope of that film. Instead it is more compact and because of that it's much easier to identify with the characters. There are little flashbacks to when the boys were younger that is a neat way of bringing the audience closer to the story. Over all, it's a nice simple drama that has some really nice touches. I know it's not had a great deal of exposure, but it's certainly one I can recommend, particularly if you enjoyed 'City of God'. You can probably tell I really enjoyed this one.

My Score: 8.6/10.

IMDb Score: 7.2/10 (based on 6,016 votes at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76/100 (based on 79 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
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Entertaining and Visually Memorable, But Chiefly for Fans of the TV Series
Muldwych7 January 2011
The Rio de Janeiro landscape is nothing if not dramatic. The topography of the sprawling metropolis seems to be entirely in tune with the eclectic urban population that call it home. Pointed mountains are peppered across the landscape, and in a city where real estate struggles to meet the demands of overpopulation, many of their slopes have been cannibalized for residence. In many cases, they stand as monuments to Rio's enormous economic divide, being given over to crumbling, haphazard shanty towns known locally as 'favelas', often no-go areas for the authorities and the dominions therefore for the self-imposed fiefdoms of street gangs. In 'City Of Men', the audience is given a window into the lives of these would-be rulers and the struggling locals unfortunate enough to be caught up in their affairs.

The wider storyline, taking place primarily on the marvellously-subtle 'Dead End Hill', concerns a power struggle between gang leader Madrugadao (translated as 'Midnight' in my subtitles), disgruntled members of his group and rival gangs on nearby hills with plans to take over his territory. Caught in the middle of all this are the film's two lead characters, Acerola and Laranjinha, friends since childhood and now facing the burdens of adulthood. Driven by a shared quest to find out the identity of their long-lost fathers, they discover that the past is sometimes better left buried. The drama brings into sharp focus the personal tragedies inevitable in such an environment: children with no future drawn into gangs, the almost-impossible struggle to raise a family, and the ever-present spectre of death in a world ruled by jungle law. Yet through the close bond forged between the two friends, the fragile flames of friendship and loyalty may be just enough to help them escape the chaos.

One of 'City Of Men's strongest assets is its visual authenticity, having been shot at least partially on location at a genuine shanty town, which communicates the desperation and poverty of the world its characters inhabit with instant verisimilitude and sadness. The winding narrow streets stretching up Dead End Hill (or 'Morro da Sinuca' in the original) cut through faded blocks of sloppily-bonded iron and brick, inside which the simple and aged cheap detritus of the population offer silent indication as to the tiny fortunes and aspirations of each individual. The hill is a world apart from the wealth and stability far below, as though natural geography itself has drawn the line between them. Despite its dilapidated state and the aura of human misery, even this corner of the city manages to be picturesque. Cinematographer Adriano Goldman has striven to capture every angle of this world in all its mottled shades and succeeded brilliantly.

Robust too is the acting. Douglas Silva and Darlan Cunha as Acerola and Laranjinha respectively, do not fail to convince as the two orphans thrust together by hardship and circumstance, inhabiting their characters with ease. So too do the rest of the cast, and also notable is Pedro Henrique as Caju, the glory-seeking youth unwaveringly keen to do his bit for Dead End Hill and not at all fazed by his first firearm.

It was not until after viewing the film that I learned 'City Of Men' is actually the concluding chapter to the popular Brazilian television series of the same name, in which we see the aforementioned characters presented here at an earlier time in their lives. Indeed, the film often flashes back to scenes from the series in order to establish the longstanding friendship between the two leads. It is not, in addition, connected to the more famous exploration along similar themes, 'City Of God', which apparently sets many up for disappointment. 'City Of Men', it turns out, is the concluding chapter to the series, with a built-in audience of fans who have travelled with the cast for several years.

Which is doubtless the ideal way to approach the film, for taken on its own without any background knowledge or emotion invested in the characters, 'City Of Men' offers little in the way of original storytelling, being ultimately a fairly straightforward gangster drama with a fairly predictable ending. While its wonderfully-captured visuals have left a lasting impression with me, the unremarkable plot already fades into memory with little to stop it. Director and series writer Paulo Morelli, and scriptwriter and fellow series scribe Elena Soaraz have presented a screenplay that provides the newcomer with all the background information required to jump into their world without difficulty. The result is more than entertaining enough for the duration, but says nothing new as a film in its own right. For the fans though, 'City Of Men' will be a fond farewell to beloved characters, and the nostalgia value will be enough to take it to the next level. It just doesn't work quite so well as a stand-alone picture.

I would recommend therefore that interested parties avail themselves of the series if at all possible and hold off on 'City Of Men' until the end, which will doubtless prove more rewarding. While the film can be viewed separately, and is worth it alone for the cinematography, it will fail to resonate in the say way it does for its most ardent supporters.

Actual rating 6 1/2 out of 10.
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fast, fresh, fearless and forward thinking
thisissubtitledmovies26 August 2010
Three friendships, three betrayals, three tales to tell… Paulo Morelli delivers his take on the lives of the residents of Dead End Hill, where veiled truths are uncovered causing friends to become foes, lives to be lost and boys to become men. Amid a plot overflowing with passion and the prominence of personal growth, pardon and partnership; City Of Men conveys juxtapositions of the grim and the grand outcomes for treachery or disobedience of the unwritten rules of Rio de Janeiro.

With the accent upon survival of the fittest, and the urge to "retrieve what is rightfully yours," salvage is a key motive for the characters and factor for the entire stratagem within City Of Men. In a rousing story screened with raw sensation using a fatherless, foolish and foreboding cast, we get to view a beautiful work of art, which is actually fast, fresh, fearless and forward thinking. VMF
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