City of Men (15)

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The Independent Culture

A low-tar pendant to Fernando Meirelles' ferocious City of God, this is a slighter and more conventional story from the favelas of Rio.

Two 18-year-olds, Acerola (Douglas Silva) and Laranjinha (Darlan Cunha), friends since childhood, must come to terms with the duties of adulthood: Acerola with his neglected infant son, Laranjinha with the ex-con father who abandoned him years before. Meanwhile, the neighbourhood rings to the clatter of automatic gunfire as another gang war heats up. The naturalistic acting and sweaty sense of place are nicely handled by the director Paulo Morelli, though the suds of TV drama keep lapping at the margins, diluting its effect.