User Score
8.9

Universal acclaim- based on 324 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 14 out of 324
Watch On

Review this movie

  1. Your Score
    0 out of 10
    Rate this:
    • 10
    • 9
    • 8
    • 7
    • 6
    • 5
    • 4
    • 3
    • 2
    • 1
    • 0
    • 0
  1. Submit
  2. Check Spelling
  1. ChadS.
    Mar 30, 2003
    5
    "City of God" is passionate. This movie has loads of energy to spare. Like Baz Luhrmann, Fernando Meirelles knows how to work the MTV film grammar. But because "City of God" is so dazzling to look at, perhaps, the tragic circumstances these Brazilian kids have to work with is somehow undermined by the virtuoso camera-work and editing. "City of God" is too much fun. For example, without "City of God" is passionate. This movie has loads of energy to spare. Like Baz Luhrmann, Fernando Meirelles knows how to work the MTV film grammar. But because "City of God" is so dazzling to look at, perhaps, the tragic circumstances these Brazilian kids have to work with is somehow undermined by the virtuoso camera-work and editing. "City of God" is too much fun. For example, without revealing any plot points, a scene of revenge towards the end reeks of showboating in its cleverness. "City of God" uses an inappropriate approach to tell its story. Expand
  2. KayWhy
    Jun 14, 2003
    7
    It's simply a social commentary about the roots of violence, but unfortunately, it lacks growth and emotion from the main character of the movie, the narrator, rocket. The soullessness of the movie extends beyond just the main character--everyone seems to lack emotions. (Perhaps this was done on purpose to show the dehumanizing effects of violence). After a while, I just watched and It's simply a social commentary about the roots of violence, but unfortunately, it lacks growth and emotion from the main character of the movie, the narrator, rocket. The soullessness of the movie extends beyond just the main character--everyone seems to lack emotions. (Perhaps this was done on purpose to show the dehumanizing effects of violence). After a while, I just watched and didn't really care. There were only several powerful scenes when I felt powerless and angered. It's a shame because City of God could have made me feel this way through out if it had more emotion. Expand
  3. Aug 1, 2012
    10
    Filmogaphy on this move is an evolution of anything hollywood ever acomplished. A real lesson on how to film a story that screams reality. One of the most violent movies ever made is also one of the most beautifully filmed.
  4. DawitS.
    Mar 10, 2004
    2
    I don't understand the hype about this movie. Not even half way through the movie, I started yawning. It's that boring. Except for few of the main ones, most of the characters come and disappear pretty quickly. The short sequence of the stories within stories are very distracting and disconcerting. In short, it didn't totally draw me in. Moreover, I found the glorification I don't understand the hype about this movie. Not even half way through the movie, I started yawning. It's that boring. Except for few of the main ones, most of the characters come and disappear pretty quickly. The short sequence of the stories within stories are very distracting and disconcerting. In short, it didn't totally draw me in. Moreover, I found the glorification of violence in this movie totally inappropriate, not to mention on how it characterizes the black minority in Brazil. Very exploitive movie. I felt ashamed to watch it. 2/10 Expand
  5. FernandoN.
    Feb 23, 2003
    7
    The best brazilian movie ever (doesn't mean much since brazilian movies suck. I'm brazilian and I know what i'm saying). Good performances considering that 90% of the cast is non-professional. A good movie but far from a masterpiece.
  6. henrys
    Apr 28, 2005
    2
    Reely waste of time.
  7. Aug 26, 2010
    10
    quite simply the best film you will ever see
  8. GaborA.
    Jul 24, 2004
    4
    Utter dissapointment. This movies downfall is repetitiveness. Every single dramatic element in this movie involves gun shots. Like using too many exclamation points in a paper doing this makes the drama lose its meaning. Other issues besides direct violence have to be introduced into a movie to make it meaningfull. The movie let me understand the problem of immense violence, but the Utter dissapointment. This movies downfall is repetitiveness. Every single dramatic element in this movie involves gun shots. Like using too many exclamation points in a paper doing this makes the drama lose its meaning. Other issues besides direct violence have to be introduced into a movie to make it meaningfull. The movie let me understand the problem of immense violence, but the repetition trumped the ultimate goal which was to evoke sympathy. Collapse
  9. DaveH.
    Nov 19, 2006
    4
    Such a waste of great performances. No characters are fleshed out to the extent that they become interesting in any way. Rocket, despite being the protagonist, takes a passive, peripheral backseat to the action. The young Lil' Dice is played brilliantly and is a very convincing psychopath, but we get to know little about either him or other characters. My interest in the film Such a waste of great performances. No characters are fleshed out to the extent that they become interesting in any way. Rocket, despite being the protagonist, takes a passive, peripheral backseat to the action. The young Lil' Dice is played brilliantly and is a very convincing psychopath, but we get to know little about either him or other characters. My interest in the film wandered constantly with so much of the narrative being devoted to exposition. Inconsequential informaion about characters' history and the logistics of the favella drug circuits is divulged by the truckload while the actual story plods throughout. Dramatically hollow and inertly paced, and this is meant to be a thriller? I have no desire to see this film again. Expand
  10. BillR.
    Mar 13, 2004
    3
    I don't care if it is based on a true story; City of God is a repugnant waste of time, one of the most callous, utterly despicable movies I've ever seen. As a foreign-language darling, it just might beat the likes of Amelie and Talk to Her as the most grossly disappointing and overrated of the century for all its skin-deep technical competence. To even call CoG derivative of I don't care if it is based on a true story; City of God is a repugnant waste of time, one of the most callous, utterly despicable movies I've ever seen. As a foreign-language darling, it just might beat the likes of Amelie and Talk to Her as the most grossly disappointing and overrated of the century for all its skin-deep technical competence. To even call CoG derivative of countless other films (*especially* GoodFellas), is to give it way too much credit. Devoid of even a modicum of compassion, humanity, genuine entertainment or interest in character interplay, for two hours and ten minutes we're treated to souped-up visuals of people blowing each other's fvcking heads off. Again and again and again and again and then some more. City of God offers you nothing about Brazilian culture despite an obligatory, 'Hey, look there are horrific slums in which human life ain't worth dirt and people kill!' While that's terrible, folks, a movie needs more to run on. What is the purpose of this film? In a film so purportedly steeped in reality, where are the real human beings? Believe it or not, even vicious killers have lives outside their gruesome murders, despite City of God's vehement denial of such a fact. Women are treated as blank commodities and only one person escapes the unceasing horror: the contrived narrator who can hardly even be considered a "character" because he's such a passive, non-descript bore. Everyone else gets killed. Then some people take their place. Then those people get killed. Then some other people take their place. I'd love someone to go through the film with a stopwatch and find the longest portion of celluloid in which someone is not killed. I'm betting no more than four minutes. City of God makes practically no attempt to understand why Brazilian slums are war zones. It just gleefully endorses the fact. It's an endorsement by proxy; if you film over two hours of violence in an MTV-style, sleek, playful, "exciting" fashion, you're doing nothing to either compute, challenge or condemn the action. You're passing it off as pure 'entertainment' which is sickening, really. Expand
  11. Jan 13, 2011
    10
    Rough, raw, brutal, intense, beautiful, powerful. These words are only a few that can be used to describe this movie. May be too rough and brutal in it's depiction for some, but you won't forget the experience
  12. Jul 5, 2011
    0
    The documentary featured on the DVD was far more rewarding than the actual movie. I'm in total agreement with BillR's near perfect review of this so-called film. This emperor really has no clothes.
  13. Lawrence
    Sep 12, 2005
    5
    I actually feel my grade may be too high. Think the facelessly cheap Black Hawk Down or Spielberg's idiotic mechanical War of the Worlds, only relocated to the slums of Brazil and replete with its own set of hollow cardboard characters. Honestly, what's all the fuss about? For the record, I vastly prefer video games where, y'know, I'm in CONTROL. And boast better I actually feel my grade may be too high. Think the facelessly cheap Black Hawk Down or Spielberg's idiotic mechanical War of the Worlds, only relocated to the slums of Brazil and replete with its own set of hollow cardboard characters. Honestly, what's all the fuss about? For the record, I vastly prefer video games where, y'know, I'm in CONTROL. And boast better dialogue. They exist, ppl. Expand
  14. Dec 31, 2010
    10
    Cidade de Deus, or, City of God is a Brazilian film, directed by Fernando Meirelles, released in the year 2002, tells the story of life in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, in an area known as the Cidade De Deus, the City of God. Fortunately or unfortunately, you are left in a world you donâ
  15. Nov 5, 2014
    0
    Really ??? Is this a movie with 8.9 score ??? I must be from another planet. For those who should be surprised with my "0", I'm a well educated man and watched the movie very carefully and only with coffee. Some young brasilian dirtbags kill each other. Yes for 2 hours this is it. Trash movie, trash actors, trash plot.
  16. AndreR.
    Jan 17, 2003
    10
    The film that blows Gangs of New York in all the ways. Here it looks real. Meirelles did a masterpiece. Amores Perros mixed with Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, but this time with some social matters. Amazing!
  17. Marc-o
    Oct 8, 2003
    10
    Just about Perfect!!! My only problem was that it should have been longer, beautifully shot considering the subject matter and the writers show a huge talent in story telling in both structure and character, better than anything to come out of any other film making country this year. I will definately recommend this to anyone who will listen.
  18. StephanieS
    Jan 11, 2005
    10
    This movie is one of the best I've ever seen. Anyone who gives it a low rating probably likes fluff movies with alot of unrealistic drama and storylines. CoG is a true to life film, deeply moving and simply brilliant, and I have not come across one person who hasn't liked it. Educated college students adore it. A masterpiece.
  19. CiaronD.
    Jan 4, 2006
    10
    Utter class! the city of god is a classic film set in the ghetto of brazil, showing real life events and on-goings, amazing story, has to be a all time favourite of mine, 1st discovered it in film studies at college and thought it was class from the first viewing! hope to see it again soon!
  20. ThomasA.
    Mar 11, 2008
    10
    In my top 5 of Gangster movies, fabulous and scary this is a film everyone should see.
  21. Alexandra
    May 28, 2005
    10
    This film was beautiful and had wide and important purpose. As a film student I appreciated the meticulous technicalities and flawless structure. As a photographer, I was enthralled with the OBVIOUS theme of surprisingly surviving in literal hell, through art (photography).
  22. BrianC.
    Oct 16, 2006
    10
    Greatest film of all time. I loved the film irreversible and didn
  23. PatC.
    Jun 30, 2006
    9
    Totally involved story of the continuity inherent in Brazilian urban slum crime. Every character is disposable in their roles in this story, which is otherwise totally mesmerizing.
  24. LeanneH.
    Jan 18, 2007
    10
    I agree with Chris S. Dave H. you've got it all wrong. This is not a Hollywood thriller, this is a neo-realism film, a piece of brazilian national cinema which highlights Brazilian's way of life in order to obtain political change (wow! I hope I ace my exam!). You are looking at this concept so wrong, unless you understand the purpose of this film you will never see it as being I agree with Chris S. Dave H. you've got it all wrong. This is not a Hollywood thriller, this is a neo-realism film, a piece of brazilian national cinema which highlights Brazilian's way of life in order to obtain political change (wow! I hope I ace my exam!). You are looking at this concept so wrong, unless you understand the purpose of this film you will never see it as being a fantastic acheivement, which is definitely what it is! :) Expand
  25. JackB.
    Apr 1, 2008
    9
    Great film in every way, deserves the plaudits and i would say this is a film that everyone who loves film should try and watch. An incredible real life story, told in a very powerful way that will have you gripped from start to finish. Im not a huge fan of the "gangster" film genre having been disappointed by some of the films in the area that are considered masterpieces, however I Great film in every way, deserves the plaudits and i would say this is a film that everyone who loves film should try and watch. An incredible real life story, told in a very powerful way that will have you gripped from start to finish. Im not a huge fan of the "gangster" film genre having been disappointed by some of the films in the area that are considered masterpieces, however I challenge anyone to truthfully say that this is below the level of those films. This truly deserves the title of being a Masterpiece. Expand
  26. JucaA.
    Jun 26, 2008
    10
    Great movie from Brazil. Realistic and well done.
  27. BenZ.
    Jun 27, 2004
    10
    Wow, what an uttlerly fantastic movie. This is the best film i've seen all year without a doubt. The plot was excellent, the acting was very well-done, and there wasn't a single boring second in the film. Besides this... it is a very deep and educating study into the Brazilian culture. This movie, like Amorres Perros before it, puts modern American filmaking to shame.
  28. ApocalypseBrown
    Jun 12, 2007
    10
    Nothing is perfect in film making, but this is as close as you get.Gripping, intelligent, subtle, violent, tragic, it has it all. After this film you really to reflect and sympathise with the poor of Brazil. In my top ten films of all time. And Metacritic, sack your advance scout, Chad S. His review flat out sucked!
  29. waltm
    Dec 19, 2004
    10
    This movie was good. whoever thought this movie was boring or gave it a rating of below 9 were probably using a lot of drugs at the time and have no clue about what they say. The movie was well made. i ave no idea why some people gave it a 3 or even a 2 if they were not even there to witness what happened. this movie is one of the best. Everyone should see it.
  30. Jan 8, 2012
    9
    I have been wanting to watch this film for several years now and now that I have, I realise why everyone has been recommending it. It is well crafted, small character stories of the favelas (slums) of Rio where violence is out of control and kids grow up thinking it is a natural way of life. A story told passionately, by the director that also brought us the brilliant Constant Gardener,I have been wanting to watch this film for several years now and now that I have, I realise why everyone has been recommending it. It is well crafted, small character stories of the favelas (slums) of Rio where violence is out of control and kids grow up thinking it is a natural way of life. A story told passionately, by the director that also brought us the brilliant Constant Gardener, using mostly first time actors who grew up in these "hoods" and only have to be themselves, thus augmenting the reality feel factor of the film. Expand
  31. Jan 29, 2014
    10
    Brazilian Goodfellas from a low-rent perspective. Unique characters drift in and out of gang life, trying to survive in their own ways. Touches us with elements of familiarity and shows how if the environment were a bit different, these horrible options could become a reality anywhere. Great movie. Well done.
  32. Sep 6, 2011
    10
    One of the best Films i ever watched,of course brazilian people will like it more because of the excessive bad language (who makes the film very funny) and the slangs,but everyone must see this film,an epic real story of two drug factions in a war who envolves the entire community of city of god.
  33. May 2, 2012
    9
    City of God tells its story through multiple small stories and numerous characters yet the tale it tells and the world it shows is remarkably cohesive. A bleak picture is painted of 1960's Rio, one where goodness is easily corrupted and the corrupted hold the power.
  34. j30
    Jan 26, 2012
    10
    City of God is a great movie. There's no doubt in my mind that it'll go down as one of the greatest of all-time. Beautiful cinematography, great direction, fantastic acting, this is one of the more artistic movies you'll see ever. This movie is up there with The Godfather, Goodfellas, and Pulp Fiction.
  35. Sep 30, 2014
    10
    This is truly a brilliant movie! Engaging, profound, crude, and touching. Although humorous at times, some of the scenes are also hard to watch and it might make you question certain values we hold based on things that we take for granted. This movie takes you to a reality that most of us have never imagined. I also like the sociological ideas/ message behind this film. It is not myThis is truly a brilliant movie! Engaging, profound, crude, and touching. Although humorous at times, some of the scenes are also hard to watch and it might make you question certain values we hold based on things that we take for granted. This movie takes you to a reality that most of us have never imagined. I also like the sociological ideas/ message behind this film. It is not my favourite movie ever, but for what it offers, it is definitely a 10. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. We have it at home. Expand
  36. Feb 6, 2012
    10
    Based on real events this Masterpiece is out of range. No drug / slum or something else movie can compare with this. It's so intimidating and disturbing, you cant believe this is true. Heavily underrated in many ways and absolutely worth the time!
  37. Mar 4, 2013
    9
    City of God follows the fortunes of a group of children growing up in a poor, crime infested part of Rio de Janeiro. The story centers mainly around two characters. Each with very similar lives, but who take vastly different paths. This juxtaposition is what drives the narrative in City Of God, and what makes it so compelling.

    Rocket feels out of place in the world he lives. he wants to
    City of God follows the fortunes of a group of children growing up in a poor, crime infested part of Rio de Janeiro. The story centers mainly around two characters. Each with very similar lives, but who take vastly different paths. This juxtaposition is what drives the narrative in City Of God, and what makes it so compelling.

    Rocket feels out of place in the world he lives. he wants to be a photographer. We know from the moment we meet him that he longs to rise above the horrendous poverty and crime that envelopes him. He stands out in this world, others are naturally drawn to his soft temperament and demeanor even if they don't realize the reason. Rocket does not readily have the means to rise above this world so consequently he comes across many stumbling blocks in his life. One of the more interesting sequences in the film is when Rocket concludes that he has no other options than to resort to the life most of his peers have. How this decision plays out results in some of the more lighthearted moments in City Of God. While Rocket's path may not be more interesting than others in the story, it is the most sympathetic.

    Li'l Ze is the polar opposite of Rocket. He doesn't long to rise above this world, he longs to rule over it. The perverse crime and violence he sees all around him doesn't hinder him, it compels him. Li'l Ze earns the kind of respect that comes from brute force, and he learns these tactics at a frighteningly young age. If Li'l Ze is going to be a criminal he is determined to the most powerful criminal in the City of God. This is his only motivation, and what he allows to define his existence.

    There are many other characters in City Of God. This film has lots of moving parts. However most of the other players move within the framework of the two main characters. Rocket and Li'l Ze are the black and white of the movie, while the other characters represent the shades of gray. It is an interesting way to tell a story, and works exceptionally well here.

    If I have an issue with City of God it is with the way the movie was shot. We get very few static shots in this film. Everything is quick cuts and shaky camera. While this style never completely keeps me from enjoying a film, it can detract from my enjoyment some. It is very hard to get a sense of time and place when this style is employed, City if God was no exception to this. It also make it difficult to differentiate between the good and bad acting within this style. I suppose this can work positively for the director, but I still consider it a detriment.

    Overall I would consider City of God a great crime drama. The story is extremely well told, with many interesting memorable characters. This is the kind of movie that is still with you weeks or months after you see it. I am looking forward to revisiting it in the future.
    Expand
  38. Sep 8, 2014
    8
    Masterfully directed and acted, City of God is undeniably worthy of the praise it has received over the years. Unashamedly brutal and honest, City of God provides a brilliant look at life in the slums of Brazil through the eyes of a boy who dreams of becoming a photographer and while he is not involved in gang life, he is undeniably touched by it and it is a huge part of who he is. TheMasterfully directed and acted, City of God is undeniably worthy of the praise it has received over the years. Unashamedly brutal and honest, City of God provides a brilliant look at life in the slums of Brazil through the eyes of a boy who dreams of becoming a photographer and while he is not involved in gang life, he is undeniably touched by it and it is a huge part of who he is. The acting, directing, and cinematography, are all pitch perfect and the storytelling here works very well. It is a great example of world cinema since it is a Brazilian film and a great example of how it does not matter what language a film is in, as long as it is very good and this one certainly fits that bill. Overall, I was very impressed with this film and it undoubtedly rings true for those living in this unfortunate situation. While brutal and sad at times, this one is a foreign language classic. Expand
  39. Feb 28, 2013
    10
    This movie was amazing, the level of realism was great, the acting was great, despite there being no stars in the film. It really had meaning, when some of the characters died, I even felt that I cared.
  40. May 1, 2014
    9
    A rather violent movie with very complex and thought-provoking storyline based on a true story. Great filming and direction. Definitely this movie should be watched by everyone who loves good movies.
  41. Nov 8, 2012
    10
    When the credits begin to roll, your eyes will be wide, thoughts racing, your mind still trying to comprehend the impeccable City of God.
  42. Jan 3, 2014
    9
    Com certeza de longe o melhor filme brasileiro de todos os tempos, graças um trabalho primoroso de alto nível fizeram essa película fortemente apreciada em todo o mundo.
  43. Apr 2, 2013
    10
    Amazing movie, director Fernado teach us that the good cinema is everywhere, the performance are incredible, and all the history of this picture have sense with the real life now, is amazing and maybe one of the best movies foreign language.
  44. Oct 2, 2014
    10
    An emotionally visceral, graphically violent piece of cinema, City of God (Cidade de Deus) might be one of the most brutally honest films I've ever seen. Noting is taboo as the movie shows children being shot, countless dead bodies, and ruthless behavior; all the more shocking because it's real. The movie takes place in the City of God, an area in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, far from theAn emotionally visceral, graphically violent piece of cinema, City of God (Cidade de Deus) might be one of the most brutally honest films I've ever seen. Noting is taboo as the movie shows children being shot, countless dead bodies, and ruthless behavior; all the more shocking because it's real. The movie takes place in the City of God, an area in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, far from the places shown on the touristy postcards. It's a slum, and it seems like you'd be lucky to make it into your 20's living there. The story follows a young man named Rocket as he aspires to be a photographer, while showing bleak backdrop of the drug trade and constant gang warfare in the area. The director purposefully uses little-known actors to make the feel of the movie more authentic, and the way he presents the material through the stunning cinematography and a superb script is amazing. I'm shocked it didn't succeed in getting nominated for best Foreign Language film at the Oscars, but nonetheless it is a powerful and important film that earns its critical praise. Some viewers will be unable to watch parts of this movie; it really is that shocking. Expand
  45. Oct 10, 2014
    10
    It's a strong and realistic portrait of difficulties of living in Brazil's favelas .. It's violent, often hard to see, the acting is excellent and the plot just awsome. Moreover, the story is based on true events: that's enforce the realism and the immersion! Finally, the scenes are wonderfully filmed: the producer dealt an incredible work! Sure we are facing one of the best movies everIt's a strong and realistic portrait of difficulties of living in Brazil's favelas .. It's violent, often hard to see, the acting is excellent and the plot just awsome. Moreover, the story is based on true events: that's enforce the realism and the immersion! Finally, the scenes are wonderfully filmed: the producer dealt an incredible work! Sure we are facing one of the best movies ever made! (specially in foreign country) Expand
  46. Hercules
    Jan 30, 2004
    10
    The best movie of the year... amazing, powerful, brilliant...
  47. BrianH.
    Feb 8, 2004
    10
    Like when you watch a movie like Schindler's list you just again think oh my god, this is reality put on screen, actual life for millions of slum dwellers in third world slum making american inner cities look moderately trouble and european cities like paradise. This film should be made obligatoric material in schools!
  48. Petra
    Aug 7, 2009
    10
    Great movie.
  49. ZCameron
    Nov 24, 2003
    10
    A masterpiece. This film ropes the viewer in so easily that by the end of the film it seems as though the extreme Violence and degradation that these children live amongst is normality. Beautifully shot and constructed with enough character development to leave you loving li'l Ze` and hating the police. My favourite film of the last decade followed closely by Kolya.
  50. DessaE.
    Apr 26, 2003
    9
    Very moving and realistic. The actors seem to age on screen.
  51. MattH
    Nov 10, 2004
    10
    Utterly superb. I missed the cinema release but the DVD has become the most treasured in my collection. Absorbing and fantastic.
  52. ChrisS.
    Mar 20, 2004
    10
    I think that this movie is a piece of genius, as well as the amazing camera action and violence but because it seems as though you are watching into a real piece of life and not actually watching a film. However not for the faint hearted.
  53. KeiS.
    Mar 2, 2004
    9
    This movie is amazing! Something like a Brazilian "Boys In The Hood". Honest and compelling - it touches on those realities mainstream society ignores, and disenfranchised people of poverty recognize as truth.
  54. ChrisM.
    Jun 30, 2004
    10
    Put simply. One of the best films ever made.
  55. Rico
    Jun 9, 2004
    10
    Looks like I have a new favorite movie. Step aside, Pulp Fiction.
  56. GustavoH.R.
    Jun 9, 2004
    7
    I'm sorry, but Dawit S. doesn't understand anything about Brazil nor about slums. "Black minority"? The majority of the population IS black, and CoG depicts how rough life is in the slums. The film actually pales in comparision to reality.
  57. KatieP
    Jul 5, 2004
    10
    Very good. Excellent in the sense that it puts the viewers in The City of God along with the "hoods".
  58. adamf.
    Jan 31, 2005
    10
    Amazing one of the best films ever.
  59. SimG
    Aug 12, 2005
    9
    One of my all-time favorite foreign films.
  60. WelingtonS.
    Jan 1, 2006
    10
    A masterpiece.
  61. NickA.
    Aug 20, 2007
    10
    One of the most powerful dramas of the decade is 'City of God.' Fernando Meirelles proves that he can run with the most acclaimed directors in modern cinema with this film. His disciplined style is vigorously enchanting as much as it is appealing. For his furious and violent tale, 'City of God,' he portrays, with shocking realism, the slums of Rio de Janeiro from the late 60
  62. NatW.
    Mar 2, 2009
    10
    Only the best film ever! great soundtrack
  63. AaronA.
    Feb 22, 2003
    9
    Brilliantly shot and edited. great cast. utterly authentic, gritty feel. weakened by tunnel-vision, lack of context, no discernible POV; but must see nonetheless.
  64. DanielB.
    Feb 23, 2003
    8
    [***Potential Spoilers***] The American Heritage Dictionary gives the definition of ?favela? as ?a shantytown or slum, especially in Brazil.? For an alternate definition, one could look to City of God. A housing project for the poor in the 60?s, the City of God became by the early 80?s one of the most dangerous places to live in Rio de Janeiro. The very opposite of a suburb, the City of[***Potential Spoilers***] The American Heritage Dictionary gives the definition of ?favela? as ?a shantytown or slum, especially in Brazil.? For an alternate definition, one could look to City of God. A housing project for the poor in the 60?s, the City of God became by the early 80?s one of the most dangerous places to live in Rio de Janeiro. The very opposite of a suburb, the City of God is a little slice of hell on earth: an epicenter of poverty and breeding ground for would be hoodlums masquerading as men; a place where ?if you run, they get you, and if you stay, they get you?; where the police, merely criminals with badges, hoods with hats, can be differentiated from the dealers only by their VW Bugs ? the dealers have much better wheels. The City of God is so wicked, outsized and out of control that it lends room for no single character or narrative to patly package and present its verity. We are, however, given a narrator, Rocket (Alexandre Rodrigues), and while ostensibly tracing his growth from boy to man and his development as a photographer, we learn, through his eyes and words, the myriad tales of the favela. Through these tales, we absorb the character of the City itself. Basing his film on Paulo Lins? novel of the same name, director Fernando Meirelles set out for Rio to bring this favela convincingly to life. The film employs few professional actors, with nearly all the foremost players, including Rocket, coming from Rio?s favelas. Meirelles, with the help of co-director Katia Lund and a group of dedicated crew and friends, spent a year combing through the ghettos, finding children who had the requisite spark. Acting workshops were created, lessons on filmmaking given, and tutors were brought in to aid the children should they lapse in their schoolwork. The filmmakers developed the dialogues and scenes with their now-actors, letting the children and scenarios lead the way, and making secondary the concerns of framing, fluidity and continuity. The result is a nearly documentary style, and the film presents itself with convincing realism. But with violence so flagrant and people so vile, our sensibilities recoil and we are sure to ask: how real is this realism? What have the filmmakers changed or embellished? And it is true that major details are fictionalized and created for the sake of the film. For example, and in the words of Lund: ?In the book, Rocket is based on a real person, a friend of Paulo's, who is white. In the movie however, we based Rocket the photographer, on Paulo Lins the writer, and therefore decided to have him be black.? Regardless, the overall impression of nigh hopeless struggle ? not for a better life but for any life at all ? comes through with disturbing clarity, and should we doubt it, the filmmakers are prepared to convince us. As the end credits roll and the words ?based on a true story? appear on screen, we see a clip of documentary footage, of a gang leader in a television interview. His face is unfamiliar but his name, Knockout Ned, is not, and the scene is one we have seen before; it was recreated verbatim in the film. With this scene brought from fiction to sudden, obvious reality, all doubts of authenticity are dispelled. With character names like Knockout Ned, Rocket, Li?l Dice and Shaggy; and lines like ?You?ve just killed the coolest hood in the City of God,? this film could be, in some more perverted universe, a light-hearted Guy Ritchie binge-killing comedy. And it is not without a whopping load of its own razzle-dazzle violence and seductive close ups of gleaming semi-automatics. But the brutality of the violence and the ugliness of life in the favela are portrayed in such a way as to make films like Ritchie?s, entertaining and crafty as they often have been, seem almost insipid in their gloss, vulgar in their denial of guilt and pain, and amoral in their dice game swapping of crime for circus antics. The film?s most serious drawback is that it dangles Rocket before us as a central character, when he is really only the narrator. His role as an observer instead of a player was not unknown to the filmmakers, and they worked to tangle his life further with the goings on: Rocket?s brother is killed by Little Ze, the most vicious of dealers; and Rocket?s family house is raided by the police. Still, the film leaves too much of Rocket unexplored and he remains more of a watcher than a doer. That is perhaps the essence of a photographer, but it would have better served the film to more deeply entwine his fate with those of the hoods and friends around him. I feel I have to note, after a review such as this, that the film is not all gloom and despair. At its approximate center, after all, is Rocket, who by the 70?s is a young man with eyes for photography and the beautiful Angelica (Alice Braga, as ?the only girl in our gang who screws?), who he hopes will help him solve his virginity issue. She doesn?t. Rocket tampers with crime, planning to hold up a bakery, but the counter girl ends up being too cute. He gets her number instead of her cash but, in what is an extremely potent anti-marijuana message, he accidentally uses the scrap of paper to roll a joint. Rocket is the least likely of survivors, but through his proximity to the evils around him, his admixture of luck and preparation, and his living to tell the tale, we see that small miracles can occur, even in the City of God. Expand
  65. RenataC.
    Jul 20, 2003
    10
    Very very very very very good!
  66. CassieG.
    Sep 19, 2003
    10
    Very powerful, everyone should see it.
  67. Kelly
    Sep 25, 2003
    10
    Incredible. It absolutely blew me away. A movie that everyone should see and one that no one will forget.
  68. KUniD.
    Sep 29, 2003
    10
    Powerful, Compelling, and Thought-provoking movie! I saw this movie couple of months ago but I can still remember it very well. From the beginning, the movie grabs you and won't let go.....(I can still remember this movie very well)... The movie is very realistic and it is fun, action, thrilling movie all the way. I think it is due to a smartass director. Cudos to him for making such Powerful, Compelling, and Thought-provoking movie! I saw this movie couple of months ago but I can still remember it very well. From the beginning, the movie grabs you and won't let go.....(I can still remember this movie very well)... The movie is very realistic and it is fun, action, thrilling movie all the way. I think it is due to a smartass director. Cudos to him for making such a bold and powerful movie. One of my favorites this year besides Whale Rider, Dirty Pretty Things, Tibet:Cry of the Snow Lion, and LAGAAN (from last year). Expand
  69. FelipeR.
    Jan 9, 2004
    10
    It´s the best movie from my country!!!!!!
  70. Patrick
    Feb 23, 2004
    9
    This is a movie of epic proportions.
  71. CameronS.
    Feb 27, 2004
    10
    City of God is a masterpiece about gangs that would make Martin Scorsese proud with envy. It?s been related to his opus of crime ?Goodfellas? for a good reason. The first thing you?ll have to know is that the City of God is the slums of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a part of the city that has been sealed off by the wealthy. The first scene of the movie displays the film as instantly kinetic City of God is a masterpiece about gangs that would make Martin Scorsese proud with envy. It?s been related to his opus of crime ?Goodfellas? for a good reason. The first thing you?ll have to know is that the City of God is the slums of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a part of the city that has been sealed off by the wealthy. The first scene of the movie displays the film as instantly kinetic and gives you an extreme of what you?re in for, but for all the quick cutting, you still get a good sense of geography and what?s happening, unlike a Michael Bay movie. After the first scene, our raconteur and main character, Rocket, flashes us back to tell the story. Which is what the film is mostly comprised of, a bunch of stories. The first story is about the Tender Trio: Goose, Shorty, and Shaggy; mostly older brothers of other characters in the movie. They frequently hijack trucks carrying water, gasoline, or other supplies, as if they were cowboys in the old west. One of them has an experimental sexual encounter that goes out of kilter. After this point of the film, everything is easily interesting. Another story in the film that is well edited is the story of the apartment. It goes through at least a half dozen parties before coming back to the present. Then there is the story of Lil? Ze, formally known as Lil? Dice, who becomes the ?King? of City of God. There are so many characters that are so well-developed and exciting to be around, it?s easy to lose track. There is ?Carrot? a red-headed Portuguese-man who competes with Lil? Ze for business and starts the war with him. There is Knockout Ned, who works for the city bus system, and his family is tarnished greatly by a horrible event done by Li?l Ze. And then, there is Bene, ?the coolest guy in all of City of God?, he buys drinks for everybody and gives away joints for free very often. The film doesn?t have memorable scenes per say, it has memorable sequences. The drug business is like any other business. And there is a corporate ladder as well. Now I have got to explain our narrator and main character, Rocket, though he isn?t the main character in a sense that he has the most screen time. He wants to be a photographer and his camera is his weapon. He takes photos of Lil? Ze?s gang, and has them developed in the newspaper he?s interning at. Out of some mishap, the pictures get published in the front paper; he thinks this will spell his doom. His entire life, he?s had trouble losing his virginity, and this frustrates him to no end, he has a sucker?s life. Events like this lead him to partake in one of the gangs. What I appreciated most about the narrative structure of the film is how Rocket acknowledges a character and tells us he has a story about him, but that will come later in the film. I don?t know how far into the movie I was, but at some point, I wanted the film to keep going on. I was so enthralled by all the characters in it; I never wanted it to stop. It?s like reading a big novel you enjoy and you flip to the back to see how many pages you have left, for you want to never stop reading. You just want as much content you can grab onto. And in 135 minutes, City of God gives you a whole lot to grasp. The gang warfare is captured like a real war movie, though I don?t know if there was necessarily a point to the gang warfare, only that it shows that vengeance breeds violence, or violence breeds vengeance, or violence breeds violence, or vengeance breeds vengeance, or something like that and it will continue to recycle from person to person, vendetta to vendetta, until we are all gone. The film is something of a phenomenon of a stylistic filmmaking accomplishment in a film plentifully substantial. But the most amazing part of the film comes at the very end: based on a true story. Expand
  72. BrunoA.
    Feb 3, 2004
    10
    Just perfect!!!
  73. PamM.
    Mar 15, 2004
    10
    There's only a word to describe this movie: MAMMA MIA!!!
  74. AsiaZ.
    Jun 15, 2004
    10
    Wow. This movie is superior on so many levels. First of all, the acting was superb. The characters- especially the hoodlums, were so realistically portrayed at times it felt like a documentary. Second of all, the cinematography was right up there with the best I have ever seen. Words can't describe how gritty the favela looks in the film. I am reccomendig this film to everyone as a Wow. This movie is superior on so many levels. First of all, the acting was superb. The characters- especially the hoodlums, were so realistically portrayed at times it felt like a documentary. Second of all, the cinematography was right up there with the best I have ever seen. Words can't describe how gritty the favela looks in the film. I am reccomendig this film to everyone as a MUST see. It is that good. Expand
  75. LilyL.
    Jun 19, 2004
    10
    Cinematography, storytelling, the characters (first time acting!), flawless...and what about the Brazilian culture? Remember: it's Titled: City of God...which also have the meaning to it. This movie I believe isn't mainly focused on violence. It is saying that there are places that many people don't know how it's like to be living in a City of God.
  76. DennisP.
    Jul 23, 2004
    10
    Very rarely does a movie deserve a "10" rating, but "City Of God" is simply one of the most brilliant films I have seen in a few years. From the first scene to the last, I was totally involved. The authenticity is frightening.
  77. ArnelW.
    Oct 17, 2005
    9
    Outstanding film. It illuminates a reality very few Americans will ever see and does so in a gritty, compelling manner.
  78. Petra
    Sep 19, 2005
    10
    Great movie.
  79. JakubR
    Jul 12, 2006
    9
    One of the best movies I have ever seen. World is without end and without reason. People within are curious and ungrasped.
  80. VJSouchet
    Aug 10, 2006
    10
    Just a brilliant movie on every front.
  81. BuzzT
    Jun 12, 2009
    10
    Really one of the best movies I've ever seen. Underrated and by far not as noticed as it should be.
  82. LouisM
    Aug 10, 2009
    10
    Amazing movie, easily one of the best film of this decade. As realistic as it gets. I'm out to buy it, then watch it a few more times.
  83. Mercs888
    Nov 25, 2003
    10
    From the start of the movie, the reality of life in poverty/ghettos caught me. As I work with similar children myself it felt so real on how people get caught up and showing your steel comes to be the only logical reaction, as they hold on tightly to false power. excellent movie.
  84. BobS.
    Mar 11, 2003
    10
    Gripping and poignant ... a modern day masterpiece.
  85. DaveW.
    Jul 11, 2003
    9
    Brilliant, beautiful movie reminding the civilized world that any country south of the Equator (not colonized by the British, that is) will never be more than a cesspool of subhumanity.
  86. JohnY.
    Jan 29, 2004
    10
    The best film of 2003 ... powerful beyond belief.
  87. Chucky
    Feb 11, 2004
    8
    One of the few movies that actually deserves recognition in the Oscar race this year.
  88. CarolN.
    Feb 13, 2004
    10
    I absolutely had to see this movie when it was rereleased in Minneapolis this month. I wasn't able to see it when it first came out last year. So I braved the slick roads and freezing cold... and boy, was it ever worth it. After seeing it, I read every last review I could get a hold of online, to see what others thought of this fantastic film. I went to see it again the very next I absolutely had to see this movie when it was rereleased in Minneapolis this month. I wasn't able to see it when it first came out last year. So I braved the slick roads and freezing cold... and boy, was it ever worth it. After seeing it, I read every last review I could get a hold of online, to see what others thought of this fantastic film. I went to see it again the very next day, and it was even better than the first time. City of God is, for me, more meaningful than any other movie ever could be. Why? This is my first (hopefully not my last) review of any movie I've ever watched, and I am glad that I finally found a movie to inspire me to write a review. If I could convince even one of my friends (Africans and Americans alike) to drive eighty miles to go see it, even without mentioning the fact that the movie's in Portuguese and starring mostly black youngsters, and set in a "slum" (read: ghetto), it would be a miracle to say the least. Being African myself, I sense many would be wary of my enthusiasm (what is more interesting to a poor person than poverty?---kind of thing). But if this is the only place I can find to express my thoughts about this film without feeling like I'm talking about the metaphysics of chalkdust, then...well, that'sfine with me. So here it goes. From the minute it begins, with the sharp knife blade jutting across a wetstone between fast shots of happy people preparing an outdoor picnic, and with one brave chicken seizing the opportunity to run for freedom, I am permanently transported into the City of God, which would be any little old shanty town in my home country of Kenya if it had a different name like Mathare, Kangemi, Kawangware or any of a dozen others that lie adjacent to the affluent suburban estates. In an instant I remember the frustration of trying to catch running chickens. Yes, the City of God is everywhere, yet it is its own universe, with the rhythms of Brazil pulsing through it as swiflty as the lives of its young. The very first feeling I get is that this favela ironically named City of God is overflowing with life, literally and metaphorically in all its abundant facets: joy, humor, and a palpable lack of inhibition in the youth: that is, until they start firing their guns at the chicken, and I get the feeling that something is "up" here. How is it that they can fire so stupidly at a fleeing chicken, laughing as they risk killing innocent passersby? But I get caught up in the action before the question is answered. It is only in the final scene that we realize that the boys called the "Runts" obtain the guns only moments before the hen takes off, and with nobody in their way, they will doubtlessly kill many more innocent people after killing Lil' Ze (Leandro Firmino de Hora who is simply amazing). The story which unfolds once the gang encounters Rocket (Alessandro Rodrigues) brings the opening scene into perspective. It is to great credit that the filmmaking and editing is so nuanced and uninhibited. This film is a serious contender, if ever there was one, for all the categories for which it is nominated. Every character's story is told confidently, and all the flashbacks and flash-forwards kept me on my toes. I love that in any movie. There are countless other devices that were used to make City of God the great movie that it is, and all of them worked. This movie however, is more than a stylistic portrait of the abandoned and disenfranchised poor. It is so detailed that you could never stop learning something new about film and underclass culture, as well as some insight into the role that colorism plays in it. It is also full of details: the colors, the khaki shorts, the dusty soccer fields, the sweat from the humidity, the playboy sensuality, and the brazen disregard for all that is "proper for the little people". Those who wouldn't want to live there would still envy Benny's sweet charm, even Lil' Ze's cocky grin and the friendship that he and Benny had. It explores the emotions that make every character so real, that we cannot be outsiders. In spite of ourselves, we understand Lil' Ze's sexual insecurities, we fall in love with Benny and Shaggy just as Alicia and Berenice do, and we want Rocket to survive, if only to know if he'll ever make the first move with a girl. I will echo what many have called this film: perfect. The best film of the year and I could go on and on and on and on, but I'd never say enough about this movie. I wish everyone could see it. Expand
  89. JGK.
    Aug 25, 2006
    10
    Great film. Everyone should watch it.
  90. WhitneyG.
    Nov 15, 2004
    10
    This film is a work of art. Nonprofessional actors were used to strengthen the raw emotions portrayed and captured so beautifully in this film, and the effect is stunning.
  91. Jan 22, 2015
    7
    Dark, sadistic and deeply disturbed. City of God is the sort of film one can respect but it's very hard to enjoy. It brilliantly paced, very engaging but at times absurdly superficial.
  92. Jan 14, 2015
    10
    The beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeest
  93. Apr 17, 2015
    7
    A very important movie! This one pretend to show to audience the reality in the streets of Brazil. And behind the criminals are people with dreams and thinking in a good life. But thay can't because they have not conditions to leave that places. A very good movie
Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. It takes a strong stomach to sit through its two-plus hours of non-stop brutality (much of it involving very small children).
  2. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    100
    The film is seductive, disturbing, enthralling -- a trip to hell that gives the passengers a great ride.
  3. 50
    Full of action, but no soul.