Where has this movie been all my life and why haven’t I seen it before? Well, apparently it’s been on a shelf at any local Blockbuster and I never even gave it a look! The only reason I even bothered watching this movie was because of a recommendation from a friend. And even then, it took me about four months to finally pop it into my DVD player and give it a look. And it’s a good thing I did!
Taking place in the slums of Brazil (favelas), the movie follows the story of a young boy, Rocket, as he tries his best to avoid falling into gang-life that is predominant in the small town known as “City of God”, inappropriately dubbed so by the Brazilian government. It is a place where all those who are homeless flock to and appears to be somewhat of an equivalent to government housing. The streets are adorned by violence by the hands of its children who then grow up leading the same example to other children. A vicious cycle indeed. There is certainly little innocence here and even Rocket, despite not being in a gang, has his associations with members which make up a better part of the cast. As far as Rocket’s mentality goes, all he wants to do is lose his virginity, stay out of trouble and pursue his lifelong dream of being a photographer, all the while avoiding any trouble that comes from the ruthless gang leader Li’l Zé, whose lifelong dream was to be the “boss” of the City of God.
I wasn’t left with much of a message after the film’s conclusion other than watch your back, don’t join a gang, be careful who you trust and follow your dreams. It was pretty straight forward and the movie seemed to nail those messages into your brain. The movie, without question delivered, in acting, storyline, direction, etc. There was plenty of tense moments as well as drama, but rest assured, there was a little bit of everything in this one. One moment you were awestruck with the conditions of how most of the people depicted in the film were living ( physically and mentally), and the next minute you are laughing right alongside with them in the movie. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it was an emotional rollercoaster, but you are definately on a ride, or journey, with the main protagonist, Rocket, as well as with the gang leader Li’l Zé, who you despise his character as both a child and an adult, but then you are almost made to feel sorry for him at one point only to go back and hate him in the next! All in all, the characters are great. If you get a chance to see this movie, be on the lookout for Benny. I don’t know why, but I felt his character worked in that he was gangster, yet you could not help but like the guy!
The movie ran a bit long at about 130 minutes, but it will keep you intrigued and you will not notice the time pass. So if you’re bored one day, or just really want to watch a great movie, give City of God a go. You won’t be disappointed… at least I don’t think you will.