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CITY OF MEN

Director: PAULO MORELLI

BRAZIL • 2007 • SUBTITLED. COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 106 MIN


THE SUPERHEATED, RAT-A-TAT-TAT STYLE OF FERNANDO MEIRELLES’ EPIC ‘CITY OF GOD’ (2002) GIVES WAY TO A LIGHTER BUT ALSO MORE EMOTIONALLY SATISFYING TAKE ON THE LIVES OF RIO’S FAVELA GANGSTAS IN COMPANION PIECE ‘CITY OF MEN’, DIRECTED BY LONG-TIME MEIRELLES COLLABORATOR PAULO MORELLI.
Apart from its setting, ‘Men’ has no plot connections with the 2002 film, despite the fact that lead actors Douglas Silva and Darlan Cunha both had roles in the former picture. Instead, ‘Men’ was developed from an intermediary TV series of the same name. The hub of the movie is the friendship between two favela kids—Acerola (Silva), dubbed ‘Ace’ in the subtitles, and Laranjinha (Cunha), aka ‘Wallace’. Ace is 18, married to the long-suffering Cris (Camila Monteiro), and has a baby son. Wallace is about to turn 18 and still lives with his mother. Both guys never knew their fathers. Ace’s was gunned down when he was still a tot, and he’s now confronted with the responsibilities of fatherhood himself at a young age. However, Wallace is suddenly keen to track down his dad, partly because he needs his signature to secure an id card.
Running parallel to the lead stories, and finally intertwining with them, is a gang war that develops between local tough guy Madrugadão (Jonathan Haagensen) and his onetime lieutenant Nefasto (Eduardo BR). But even when the guns break out at the halfway point, and rival gangs stalk each other though unlit alleyways, the film thankfully never develops the music-video style of ‘City of God’ in its approach to violence. Here, the gunplay is almost offhand, and characters don’t get lost amid the bullets.—Derek Elley, ‘Variety’.

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