Directed by Paulo Morelli
Starring Douglas Silva, Darlan Cunha, Jonathan Haagensen
City of Men is a follow up to the Oscar nominated film City of God. City of Men was recently on DVD by Miramax.
If you are not familiar with the film City of God, let me catch you up. City of God told the story of several drug dealers and their lives in the favelas or slums of Brazil. I digress. City of Men tells the story of Ace (Douglas Silva) and Wallace (Darlan Cunha), growing up in the shanty towns and trying to do the right thing, even though those around him make all the wrong choices.
Even though Ace and Wallace are not even 18 years old yet, their lives are tough and they have already had so many adult experiences and decisions to face, they don’t seem like the petulant and insipid spoiled young people you see on walking the aisles of your local mall.
Wallace finds a lot of joy in his motorcycle but it cannot fill the whole in his heart left by the father that abandoned him as a young boy. Ace, already a married father, wants to take care of his son and be a respectable man, despite their shabby surroundings filled with people with even shabbier morals and ambitions.
Despite the devastating poverty, Wallace and Ace enjoy each others company and seem to easily embrace the idea of living a good life and not letting bad influence seep in and change them.
Enter Midnight (Jonathan Haagensen). Midnight wants to go for a swim. Not a big deal in your town maybe, but Midnight has ruled his favela with an iron fist and hasn’t left it for years. Midnight would need guards and his entire posse. Midnight and his exploits become a subplot in the series that is very fascinating.
The stories that City of Men tell are gritty and sweaty. These are not the tales of adolescence that you find on the Laguna Beach or The O.C. Thank god for that. This dosage of Brazilian reality should cleanse your palate of that crap in a real hurry. If you like that drivel, this won’t be your cup of tea.
There are shoot outs a plenty and some plot developments feel a bit too familiar or clichéd, but the performances and setting are so riveting, you will barely notice. I recommend City of Men. There are young people in this world with bigger decisions to make besides what model of Lexus they want for their sweet sixteen parties and what is on sale at Abercrombie and Fitch.
City of Men is presented widescreen. The transfer is nice, but there is a lot of graininess and blurriness, to imply the use of handheld cameras.
City of Men is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 in the original Portugese language with subtitles in English, French and Spanish. The dialogue is clear throughout and while the gunshots sound a bit “dialed down”, this is a respectable mix.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
City of Men is presented in a standard amaray case with artwork appropriate for the series. The only bonus feature offered is a pretty much standard making of featurette entitled Building a City of Man. Bonus features are not plentiful, but the movie is a worthwhile watch.
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10
The Movie 7/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 6/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 4/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10