Movie Review: City of God

The film, City of God, directed by Fernando Meirelles, is a perfect example of the fusion of beautiful cinematography and storytelling to convey a plot of converging characters and their lives in organized crime in a suburb of Rio de Janeiro.

The film tells of a story of several characters, told from the perspective of the protagonist: a budding photographer nicknamed Rocket. He tells the story of how crime thrives in the favela known as the City of God. The location itself houses children and teenagers who would grow up affected by the drugs and weapons running rampant through the area. The story is told in a linear fashion, with Rocket describing the roots of the organized crime with the introduction of the Tender Trio, self-proclaimed Robin Hoods who would steal and give back to the community. The trio’s intentions grow to include young children wanting to put themselves in the business, including Li’l Dice and Benny.

Though a series of deaths and takeovers, Li’l Dice and Benny move up the ranks of drug dealing and control the city’s drug empire. Rocket observes as a friend of Benny while attempting to advance his own photography skills. Li’l Dice, now named Li’l Ze, has pursued the expansion of his drug empire. His actions involve heinous acts of murder, betrayal and rape, and Rocket bears witness to the actions of the gang wars. His work becomes recognized by local publications while the gang war escalates to a showdown in the favela.

City of God incorporates a variety of characters with interconnecting stories which add to the overarching plot. Rocket’s linear storytelling gives viewers all of the perspectives of key characters and does not focus on just one or two characters, but each has their own back-story and gives viewers a greater range of relatable characters.

Overall, I recommend City of God for photographers and those who enjoy crime dramas with intricate story lines and brilliant storytelling. The amount of depth in the film expresses the emotions of characters both in and out of the drug wars in the Rio de Janeiro favela districts. The film does not hold back on the violence and reality of the war and puts viewers in the middle of the hardships the characters face.

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