City Of Men Paulo Morelli

City Of Men Paulo Morelli
City of Men is the poor cousin of the brilliant City of God, sharing the same producer and set-up. Both are about the desperately poor "favelas” of Rio de Janeiro, where kids tote guns like toys and deal drugs to stay alive in an unforgiving society. City of Men is more directly a big-screen version of a cult Brazilian TV series by the same name, and it shows. Two orphaned street kids — Acerola (Douglas Silva) and Laranjinha (Darlan Cunha) — are about to turn 18 together. Adulthood looms and so Laranjinha seeks the father who abandoned him, while Acerola struggles to raise his own young son. Laranjinha’s story is the more compelling, as he battles for his father’s acceptance, a father who is an ex-convict on parole and barely an adult himself. Meanwhile, gangs spill blood on the lawless streets. Both are admirable storylines, given that the favelas are overflowing with fatherless children. However, Morelli’s direction lacks subtlety and his characters wear their hearts on their sleeves. Another problem is that without the benefit of seeing the TV series, North American audiences don’t know the characters and never embrace them. The result is an uneven mix of some good action and soap opera melodrama weighed down by a very slow start. The only bonus feature is the obligatory behind-the-scenes backslapper, "Building A City of Men,” which actually helps to understand the film by mentioning the TV series. However, that isn’t enough to save this film, which feels too much like a long episode of a TV series. Perhaps it’s unfair to compare this film to the exceptional City of God, but it’s being marketed as its companion piece, which will draw inevitable comparisons. Instead, go back to the bonus disc on the City of God DVD and watch the excellent documentary about the gangs in the favelas. (Alliance)