City of God
Rating: 8 out of 10
This film is as impeccably shot and edited as any crime thriller I’ve ever seen. There are more sequences I can name where the camera is used so creatively that I took notice. The editing is also first rate. If you happen to see the film, look for a sequence where the entire criminal history of one apartment is presented within a static shot of a room that goes through a time metamorphosis before your eyes. It’s absolutely mesmerizing and proof that director Fernando Meirelles is a talent that is here to stay. I can see the influences right on the screen: Robert Rodriguez, Scorsese, and certainly Danny Boyle. And yet, Meirelles has a style all his own that has a frenetic energy that is at times exhausting to keep up with. There’s a ton of amazing hand held camera work that most will love but those with a sensitivity to motion sickness will detest. That style has been all the rage the last 12 years or so because of its inherent trait of creating an artificial documentary-like reality.
The story on the other hand is the weaker element to the film. Similar to films like Crash and Magnolia, it tries to implement different character perspectives within the same environment. The problem is that the film desperately needs a unifying narrative voice. The character of Rocket was clearly supposed to be the main but the script constantly veers off into different territories. Now, all of the interweaving stories are interesting and kept my attention throughout. But, because of the constant shift of narrative focus, we never really get a sense of who these people are beyond the strict caricatures of good and bad. That’s not to say that there aren’t a great deal of excellent films that do the same thing. But, the price of telling the story that way is that you never get emotionally connected to the characters. Don’t let that dissuade you from seeing the film though. If you’re a fan of crime films and don’t mind extreme violence, there’s so much to like here.
This is a film I’ve had on my Netflix queue for over a year…need to get to it!
This played in the theater briefly and I was lucky enough to catch it. Good review, glad to see it has an audience outside of the art/indie crowd,
Great movie! Watched it again the other day after almost ten years. Holds up like the timeless classic it’ll become. The Blu-Ray transfer is also spectacular. Do not watch this on an iPhone and find the biggest screen you can.