Cidade de Deus (City of God) Reviews

J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
Top Critic
November 8, 2011

I came away from this film impressed by its narrative control but unmoved by anything it had to say.

David Rooney
Variety
Top Critic
June 17, 2009

City of God delivers a bruising, visceral experience of the vicious spiral of violence that draws kids into a life of crime, brutality and murder as the only avenue open to them.

Geoff Andrew
Time Out
Top Critic
June 24, 2006

The performances, many from non-pros, are terrific.

Jeff Strickler
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic
May 19, 2004

Difficult to watch but hard to look away from.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Andrew Sarris
New York Observer
Top Critic
March 11, 2004

The living conditions it projects are as horrendous as I had feared, but the movie is surprisingly easy to take as a rollicking homicidal entertainment.

Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic
March 20, 2003

Hard to watch but even harder to tear your eyes away from.

| Original Score: 5/5
Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic
March 14, 2003

Meirelles takes us to a real-life deathtrap and then proceeds to make us feel twice as alive for the time we spend there.

| Original Score: 3/4
Eric Harrison
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic
March 7, 2003

An incredibly assured, compelling and often sardonically funny piece of filmmaking.

Full Review | Original Score: A+
Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
Top Critic
March 7, 2003

Rivets attention and rattles the conscience.

| Original Score: B+
Bill Muller
Arizona Republic
Top Critic
March 7, 2003

Traffic was brilliant fiction, but City of God proves that true stories often pack the most punch.

| Original Score: 5/5
Peter Howell
Toronto Star
Top Critic
January 31, 2003

It should be considered required viewing, I think, by anyone who seeks to understand how violence begets violence.

Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
Top Critic
January 31, 2003

Meirelles opens with a stark image -- close-up of a knife sharpened on a whetting stone -- and, for the rest of the film, pretty much keeps us on that knife's edge.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Desson Thomson
Washington Post
Top Critic
January 24, 2003

Meirelles has created one of the most startling, grittily brilliant films in recent years.

Stephen Hunter
Washington Post
Top Critic
January 24, 2003

If one of the moral responsibilities of the movies is to put you in places where you'd never go and live lives you'd never live, then City of God is great moviemaking.

Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
Top Critic
January 24, 2003

A shocking, deeply disturbing film made with great passion.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Glenn Lovell
San Jose Mercury News
Top Critic
January 24, 2003

A grim, outrageous, blisteringly effective underworld thriller destined to become a classic of its kind.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Octavio Roca
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic
January 24, 2003

Long and difficult to watch, but it is never dull.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic
January 24, 2003

An extraordinary film, but definitely not for the weak of stomach.

| Original Score: 3.5/4
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
Top Critic
January 24, 2003

Meirelles has crafted a distinctive motion picture -- one takes us into the streets with an unsurpassed intensity and immediacy.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic
January 24, 2003

Breathtaking and terrifying, urgently involved with its characters, it announces a new director of great gifts and passions: Fernando Meirelles.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
Top Critic
January 24, 2003

There's something distasteful in the rote way this film introduces us to two dozen hapless, heartless kids and doesn't care enough to make us feel for them.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
David Edelstein
Slate
Top Critic
January 24, 2003

The film is far from a work of art, but it marks the emergence of a great new action superchef.

Jane Sumner
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic
January 23, 2003

A dazzling film.

Full Review | Original Score: A-
Mark Caro
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic
January 23, 2003

The violence never feels exploitative; the only thrill you feel is that of being in the hands of a masterful storyteller opening your eyes to a world that you feel truly exists.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Bob Longino
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic
January 23, 2003

Simply put, it cuts like a butcher knife -- the sharpest one.

Full Review | Original Score: A
Jan Stuart
Newsday
Top Critic
January 17, 2003

Finally more numbing than emotionally shattering.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Rex Reed
New York Observer
Top Critic
January 17, 2003

Simply and truly put, it is devastating.

Megan Turner
New York Post
Top Critic
January 17, 2003

That rare film that manages to be seductively entertaining without ever compromising its authenticity and power.

| Original Score: 4/4
Stephen Holden
New York Times
Top Critic
January 16, 2003

As the movie's frenetic visual rhythms and mood swings synchronize with the zany, adrenaline-fueled impulsiveness of its lost youth on the rampage, you may find yourself getting lost in this teeming netherworld.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic
January 16, 2003

A potent and unexpected mixture of authenticity and flash.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
Mike Clark
USA Today
Top Critic
January 16, 2003

This is one movie in which you don't feel the long-ish running time, in part because there always seems to be a surprise (as well as a new street guerrilla) around every corner.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
John Powers
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic
January 16, 2003

From beginning to end, City of God doesn't just hold you; it clutches your lapels with its lurid exuberance.

Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic
January 16, 2003

Pulses with atmosphere and vibrates with authenticity.

Full Review | Original Score: B+
Peter Rainer
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic
January 16, 2003

The distinction between the depiction of violence and its exploitation is paper-thin.

Michael Atkinson
Village Voice
Top Critic
January 14, 2003

Spews like a magma jet.

Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
Top Critic
January 9, 2003

Sometimes a movie comes along that just floors you, its images burn so deeply.

| Original Score: 4/4
Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic
August 21, 2002

Compelling in its faithful portrait of a Rio 'favela,' or slum city, and of how violence really takes place when people no longer care.