nine out of ten
I watched City of God twice. Once many years ago when visiting Brasil was not even remotely on the radar, and then last week after actually having seen the favela (shanty town) that the movie was filmed it and better understanding the darker side of Rio.
The movie is set in one of the worst favelas in Rio where the poor were carted off to around the 1970's to "pretty up" Rio and make it a better tourist destination. What happens when you decide to raze down the homes of hundreds of thousands of extremely impoverished and uneducated people and cart them off to nowhere and leave them to be? You get ignorance, depression, drugs and violence. This is what City of God explores in this fabulous film.
The City of God (based on a true story) follows a young boy "Rocket" who doesnt want the life he has but as the movie shows so effectively, finds nearly impossible to escape. How can you live in a city where the only way to earn money, the only way to not get killed is to be violent yourself? Rocket fights it and fights it. His parents were hardworking yet their oldest son was lured away to crime. He himself didn't want such a life for himself but found himself many times flirting with entering the life of a criminal.
The movie follows not only Rocket who flirts with crime but never truly converts over, but it also follows a man who does cross over. Knockout Ned. The movie shows him start off as a good family man who is trying to make ends meet and do things the right way. The movie ends with him a changed man. A violent criminal. The movie is great because you completely understand why became that way, infact you can't imagine how he could have become anything else. Watch the movie and I wonder if you can say for sure you would not have ended up doing exactly what Ned would have done.
The movie left me weak as it truly exposed how hard it is to escape the slums of Rio. Yes perhaps a few here or there, but for the most part, for 99.5 percent of the population of Rio's slums this is all they have to look forward to. And this is what the movie reveals so poignantly for me.