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LOWER CITY

Director: SERGIO MACHADO

BRAZIL| 2005. SUBTITLED. COLOUR. DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO. 97 MIN.


FROM THE SAME ARTISTIC POOL AS CITY OF GOD AND MADAME SATÃ, HERE’S ANOTHER BRACINGLY DYNAMIC BRAZILIAN DRAMA THAT JOLTS US WITH RAW AUTHENTICITY, FINDING THE UNIVERSALITY OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE IN A VIOLENT, PASSIONATE SETTING.
In the poorer, lower part of the bustling coastal city of Salvador, Deco (Lazaro Ramos) and Naldinho (Wagner Moura) are childhood friends who now earn a living ferrying cargo up and down the river. One of their passengers is hooker-stripper Karinna (Alice Braga, niece of Sonia), who pays for her passage with sex. Alas, both men fall for her, while vowing that a woman couldn’t come between them.
The love triangle storyline is clearly giving a nod to Jules and Jim, and director-co-writer Sergio Machado spices it with distinctly Brazilian flavours. Blood, sex and sweat mingle as these people battle their own inner urges; they know they need a peaceful balance, but their emotions are too powerful to ignore. And the actors pour their bodies and souls into the roles. Ramos and Moura have a remarkable brotherly camaraderie that’s strained by lust.
Braga is astonishingly transparent in her fragility and defiance. Machado brilliantly cuts through the film’s edgy surfaces to draw out the essence of these characters. He seasons the film with unforgettable sequences—a sizzling three-way disco dance, a terrifying pharmacy robbery, a few shocking gunshots. In the end, the film takes on a surprisingly wrenching tone that draws out themes that are much wider than the beautifully formed plot.

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