City of Men (Cidade dos Homens) (R)
Drama 110 February 29, 2008
City of God, Fernando Meirelless 2002 film about Rio shantytowns, was spun off into a hit TV series (something like the Brazilian equivalent of The Wire) featuring two of the movies youngest stars, favela-bred Douglas Silva and Darlan Cunha. Now the boys are grown, and the series is being respun off into another film. Their characters, Ace (Silva) and Wallace (Cunha), are best friends who grew up together in the shadow of Pool Hall Hill, where Wallaces drug-dealer cousin, Midnight (Jonathan Haagensen), reigns supreme. This is an all-male world--presumably because the towns women are off not being stupid, not getting themselves killed, and not abandoning their kids--and themes of fatherhood and brotherhood are particularly resonant. Neither Ace nor Wallace knew their fathers growing up (although it turns out that their fathers knew each other), and after a misguided quest to discover their roots and avenge the past, they turn to each other and the future, recognizing that they are each others best chance to escape the entrancing violence of gang warfare. Paulo Morelli directs capably, with a heavy dash of MTV-generation flair: hyper-saturated colors, close-ups of skin glittering with sweat, and a constant patter of gunfire that undergirds the soundtrack like a steady heartbeat.