Cidade de Deus
starring Matheus Nachtergaele, Seu Jorge, Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino da Hora
screenplay by Bráulio Mantovani, based on the novel by Paulo Lins
directed by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund
by Walter Chaw I'm uncomfortable with Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund's City of God--not for its brutality, but for the slick cinematic treatment of that brutality as it manifests itself through the harsh realities of Brazil's favelas ("slums"). Social Darwinist and serio-mythic in equal queasy measure, the picture is more influenced by Tarantino than Meirelles's background in commercial and video filmmaking, finding itself trying to balance its sizzle with social conscience before choosing in the end to remove itself as a strict adaptation of Paulo Lins's book Cidade de Deus. That being said, Meirelles does a magnificent job of parceling out--of marketing--the key touchstones in the history of a slum seething with violence. The result is a film that suggests what it might be like if Guy Ritchie helmed The Pianist--kinetically intriguing and technically proficient, but deeply troubling for its pop sensibility.