Of vice and men This sort-of se­quel to misses its tar­get, writes

CITY OF MEN/ CI­DADE DES HOMENS Di­rected by Paulo Morelli. Star­ring Douglas Silva, Dar­lan Cunha, Ro­drigo dos San­tos, Camila Mon­teiro, Naima Silva 15A cert, lim­ited re­lease, 106 min City of God Don­ald Clarke

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews -

WHAT MIGHT we have made of this odd film if we had never seen Fer­nando Meirelles’s jus­ti­fi­ably lauded City of God? It’s un­likely Paulo Morelli’s pic­ture, not quite a se­quel to the orig­i­nal, would have been hailed as a clas­sic, but the vivid de­pic­tions of the Brazil­ian fave­las and the pas­sion for the down­trod­den would surely have se­cured it a sig­nif­i­cant fol­low­ing. As it stands, City of Men, a spin-off from a television se­ries pro­duced by Meirelles, ends up look­ing rather pal­lid and un­der­pow­ered when set be­side its dis­tin­guished fore­run­ner. Imag­ine be­ing handed a plate of Twiglets af­ter din­ing on rare steak.

Skat­ing past sev­eral char­ac­ters from City of God, the slightly mud­dled plot fol­lows the com­ing of age of two young men from a vi­o­lent cor­ner of Rio de Janeiro’s shan­ty­town. Ace (Douglas Silva) is deal­ing with his girl­friend’s de­ci­sion to take a job in Sao Paulo so that she can care for the cou­ple’s young child. Wal­lace (Dar­lan Cunha), his best buddy, has de­cided to track down the fa­ther who aban­doned him at birth. While the two young men are bat­tling with their per­sonal crises, a gang war is brew­ing amid the lo­cale’s ver­tig­i­nous streets and walk­ways.

Morelli, us­ing an ag­i­tated cam­era and un­con­ven­tional edit­ing, re­peats Meirelles’s trick of dis­cov­er­ing blotchy beauty in Rio’s most de­prived quar­ters. The young ac­tors are uni­formly ex­cel­lent, and the ac­tion se­quences crackle with per­cus­sive men­ace. But, whereas City of God had the qual­ity of an epic to it, the new film, fea­tur­ing fewer char­ac­ters and smaller sto­ries, feels more like a soap opera in­ter­rupted by oc­ca­sional out­bursts of gun­fire. Ter­ri­ble things hap­pen in the film, but Morelli ap­pears to have traded in Meirelles’s brac­ing fa­tal­ism for a more con­ven­tional – if not ex­actly cosy – be­lief in the cir­cu­lar­ity of sto­ries and lives. We are left with an honourable, en­ter­tain­ing film that, none­the­less, feels some­what sur­plus to re­quire­ments.

View to a kill: City of Men cap­tures the blotchy beauty of Rio’s fave­las

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