Cidade de Deus (City of God) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Cidade de Deus (City of God) Reviews

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Super Reviewer
September 5, 2015
If you don't like guns, this movie will be very painful for you. But a compelling glimpse into gang violence in Brazil in the 1970s.
Super Reviewer
½ December 13, 2014
A young boy grows up amid gang violence in Rio.
More of a chronicle of disparate gangs than a cohesive plot, City of God is frenetic filmmaking at its finest. Quick camera pans, storylines that stop and start, and bloodletting violence fill this film with the type of energy that is reminiscent of Tarantino and Scorsese. Based on true stories, the film is more about environment than plot, and the feeling is both harrowing and shocking.
There's no one central performance that strikes me as remarkable because all of the performances ring with authenticity.
Overall, this is one of the finest portraits of gang violence produced outside of America.
Super Reviewer
July 29, 2010
Many have compared this stunning depiction of gang life in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, to Martin Scorsese's seminal "Goodfellas." While I understand this ascertain, and certainly agree that this film similarly deals with the complexities of gangs, there isn't the same kind of honor as in "Goodfellas." Instead of criminals getting made, fitting into a role they have coveted for much of their lives, hoods have no loyalty, as they kill, maim, and threaten with ease, and are always plotting to take over new territory. While there is a level of sophistication and class to the life of a mobster, there is no escape from the toils of hardship when taking on a life of crime in a Brazilian slum.
Our story spans twenty years, and mostly follows the story of Rocket (Rodrigues) who doesn't have an inhibition to take up a life of crime. He loses relatives, friends, and acquaintances in this environment, but it's just another aspect of his life in the City of God. There are a lot of narratives threading through this film, like a Gabriel García Márquez novel. We follow Rocket for much of the film, but we also follow gang leader Lil' Dice (later christened Lil' Ze) (Firmino da Hora) as he takes over territory, creates tension amongst his ranks, creates havoc, tortures people, and starts a gang war that lasts longer than others have before. We also follow the exploits of Knockout Ned (Jorge) as he fights against Lil' Ze, Blacky, a low level drug dealer, Shorty (Camilo), an older man who murders his wife, and several others in the slum. Weaving through these narratives is constant violence and police intervention.
In this film children of any age are thrust into adulthood, a gun perched on their hips while a lollipop lolls out the corner of their mouths. Children cry from bullet wounds the same as scraped knees, women are commodities, guns are badges of honor, and death is inevitable. The visuals in this film are color coordinated, bright, and informational during time jumps. The editing flashes quickly, but doesn't overwhelm the viewer by overloading the screen. The scenery is gritty and yet evocative of a cultural heritage somewhat trampled and yet thriving. Through the constant theme of violence and cyclical gang warfare we have a huge host of characters, but each of them is memorable and complex in their understanding of the world. All of these side characters are played by amateur or unknown actors, but it doesn't show. They understand the material they are covering, but are also closely linked to this subject, as many of these children were from the actual slums. Lead actor Rodrigues lived in the City of God at the time of filming, which makes his performance that much more heartbreaking, that much more uncomfortable.
There were some seriously scary, terrorizing, heartbreaking scenes in this film. It's not just a film about the sound of a tommy gun during a drive by, or the wads of cash in some hood's back pocket. It's more about life, about the wish for escapism that's hardly ever sated, and silent hope, which often dies a strangled, harried death. Watching this film, you won't believe in its realism, but at the very end, before the credits roll, "Based Upon a True Story" flashes, and old wounds are ripped open anew. This is a cultural epitome that not only brutally entertains as did Scorsese's classic, but also edifies its viewer without condescension.
Super Reviewer
½ January 17, 2012
I like narrative movie and I was shock that this movie base on true story.A shocking and disturbing, but always compelling look at life in the slum dog of Rio de Janiero.
Super Reviewer
November 24, 2009
If you run it will get you. If you stay it will eat you.

Great Film!!! Not only are the characters in City of God absolutely fascinating, and also very endearing, but also convincingly acted by groups of young and unknown actors. The stories are well-told, and at times, funny, and at others, brutally shocking. The cinematic style of the film gives a nod to Tarantino, with some clever time-jumping, freeze-framing, and texts indicating another chapter of the film. In every sense, a bit of a Brazillian "Pulp Fiction" or "Goodfellas", but with its own unique flavour to it. The City of God is a marvel, and a highly recommended film to watch, but not recommended for the over-sensitive or easily distressed.

Brazil, 1960's, City of God. The Tender Trio robs motels and gas trucks. Younger kids watch and learn well...too well. 1970's: Li'l Zé has prospered very well and owns the city. He causes violence and fear as he wipes out rival gangs without mercy. His best friend Bené is the only one to keep him on the good side of sanity. Rocket has watched these two gain power for years, and he wants no part of it. Yet he keeps getting swept up in the madness. All he wants to do is take pictures. 1980's: Things are out of control between the last two remaining gangs...will it ever end? Welcome to the City of God.
Super Reviewer
January 1, 2007
Following the lives of a group of friends and their extended circle growing up in the slums of Rio De Janeiro, this story will strike a chord with the poor and desperate around the world. Honest and hardworking Rocket slaves away for a pittance while watching brutal hoods take everything they want without conscience with the authorities caring little for this unwanted underclass so the ruthless run free to perpetuate an endless cycle of violence when desperation gives way to greed. This film is a stunning experience as you watch children play cops and robbers with real guns as only the most coldblooded and heartless survive; the cinematography is truly gorgeous, almost too much so considering the subject matter. The performances are also totally convincing all round, even to the smallest child. Direction is similarly flawless, brilliantly revisiting characters and plot points at strategic intervals and masterfully recreating a sense of time passing and the evolution of this criminal "dynasty", only for it to be shockingly ended by the next generation. Add to this the fact that this story is actually true and you have a film of incredible resonance. One of the best crime stories you will ever see.
Super Reviewer
May 11, 2011
Disturbing does not come close to describing some of the scenes in this film, but what's even more disturbing is the fact that many of those scenes happen every day in some places.
Super Reviewer
September 10, 2011
City Of God accounts a photojournalist's first-hand true story narrative on the roots and cycle of crime and violence and the ironic cruelties of life set Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Shocking, disturbing, and devastating epic, yet powerful and compelling. A staggering masterpiece.
Super Reviewer
½ July 31, 2011
A compelling account of a 1970s gang war in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, "City of God" manages to not only entertain the audience as we might be entertained during any violent inner-city story, but it also manages to set aside time to explore its main characters, creating a Lord-of-the-Flies-esque view of the sort of behavior to which we might resort under an anarchistic setting. This film is often found on all-time-best-movies lists, and for good reason. There are so few films as well-made and compelling as this.
Super Reviewer
½ July 31, 2011
Raw movie filled with greed and struggle, keeping you gripped throughout.
Super Reviewer
October 10, 2007
Magnificent, powerful and totally compelling.
I felt transported into the City of God whilst watching this film, the director really makes you feel every inch of the film and care for and despise some of the characters.
It's a solid yet exciting film with faultless performances. Leandro Firmino was especially excellent as Li'l Zé, I don't think I've ever hated a character as much.
This film is wonderfully crafted with beautiful cinematography that takes you on an exhilirating and brutal journey into the slums of Rio de Janeiro. Probably one of the best foreign films I have seen, it stays with you. See this movie.
paul o.
Super Reviewer
January 15, 2011
I dont always watch foreign films but City of God is sooooo good! The story was beautiful, the editing was spot on, and the dialogue was intense. Showing the rough lifestyle of people in Rio de Janiero, Rocket attempts to become a photographer while exiting the city of god and its violence.
Super Reviewer
August 19, 2010
One of the closest things to a perfect film I have ever seen. Brilliant doesn't quite describe how brilliant this film is. Excellent in every way! One of my favorites and one of the best. You absolutely must see this.
Super Reviewer
June 12, 2010
Cidade de Dues (City of God) is a story of the "favelas", the slums of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and the hardships of the people living there, just trying to get by and survive the violent envornment they live in. Two friends are at the heart of the story striving to make ends meet and escape the chaos around them. One chooses photography as a means of escape and uses his surroundings as his work. The other struggles to pull himself away from the gang, gun and drug culture which puts their friendship at risk.
A very brutal, violent but totally gripping and powerful film that doesn't shy away from the dangers of living in extreme poverty.
Quite simply an absolute belter!!!
Super Reviewer
½ May 17, 2010
Technically this is a great film and I loved watching the characters grow and the cinematography was great. It really shows the class divide in Rio and I just lvoed the setting. The acting was really good and natural. I didn't really like the story and I didn't find it entertaining in that way as it was just about drugs and gun violence. It was interesting to watch to see what happened and how things turned out but it wasn't something I'd watch again. It shows very clearly that crime just can't be stopped in an area like this. It will continue to thrive, even when the gang leaders are taken out.
Super Reviewer
December 31, 2006
A great film based on a true story of the life of a group of friends growing up in the slums of Rio. Drawn into a violent life of crime, drugs and murder from a young age. The way it charts the life of the friends and brothers through the years and how their actions effect them in the future is very well done. A very entertaining film!
Super Reviewer
½ April 7, 2007
Gripping, honest and beautiful storytelling, looks amazing on the screen and just sears its viewer. [I'll likely say more about how the Best Foreign Language Oscar was stolen from this one in 2002 once I've seen the shortlisted competitors and can prove it, but let me just say this: it must've been one hell of a year for movies to leave this out.]
Super Reviewer
½ December 28, 2008
I was absolutely engrossed in this story from beginning to end. The only knock on this film is that it most likely put a dent in Brazil's tourist trade. Simply outstanding cinema.
Super Reviewer
October 21, 2007
A violent, thought-provoking look at the slums of Rio de Janerio. Heart pounding and unrelentingly harsh and brutal to the end, but has a unique perspective on the underbelly of some South American societies.
Super Reviewer
January 18, 2007
astounding film. brilliant camera work, excellent acting, and a stunning story.
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