City of God (TFR Selects)

TFR Selects Films are films which are hidden away deep in streaming services (NETFLIX UK OR AMAZON PRIME VIDEO UK). While there are some brilliant films which are great and easy to find, these are the ones which don’t quite garner as much attention, whether they are foreign language or small indy films.

NameCity Of God
LanguageBrazilian (Portugese)
Available On (As of 30/04/19)Netflix UK

City of God is a film about the lives of young men in poverty in Brazil’s slums. Starting out in the sixties with the three amigos, Shaggy, Clipper and Goose who commit petty crime for a living, our narrator Rocket takes us through this city building and gang crime escalating in the eighties.

This scene shows Lil ‘Ze trying to control the local area, dealing with young trouble makers.

Rocket himself grows up wanting to be a photographer, however this dream seems unlikely in his current financial situation. He is easily likeable and is one of many memorable characters. You have the relaxed gangster Benny, Carrot, Ned and psychotic antagonist Li’l Dice. While Rocket is our lead, the story rarely focuses around him. However, he gets more involved in events as him dream job takes him that way.

City of God is beautifully shot and shows a stark contrast between the gang’s desire for life and partying (especially notable with the light pop soundtrack used throughout) and their lack of care and willingness to risk everything. The atmosphere goes from a gentle yellow at the start, to a much darker set of greys and reflects what is going on vividly.

There are moments in this film where you smile and moments where you feel anger as it takes you through a gritty representation of Rocket’s story. Violence is generally impactful and quick. A person is hot and everyone moves on. It normalises gang violence. You feel your characters as they are all well developed, something very impressive considering all of the actors are locals.

The film focuses on discrimination and poverty in this country. There is an underlying focus on race as well as drug addiction. Justice and police corruption is also clear to see in a dark film which balances its lighter moments well.

And did I mention it was based on a true story? (4.5 Stars)

This latest choice is available on Netflix UK.


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