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Arts & Life

'City of Men'

Laranjinha (Darlan Cunha, left) and Acerola (Douglas Silva) are close friends before a gang war pits them against each other in City of Men. Vantoen Pereira Jr./Miramax Films hide caption

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Vantoen Pereira Jr./Miramax Films

Laranjinha (Darlan Cunha, left) and Acerola (Douglas Silva) are close friends before a gang war pits them against each other in City of Men.

Vantoen Pereira Jr./Miramax Films
  • Director: Paulo Morelli
  • Genre: Drama
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

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Absent fathers and yearning sons are the subject of City of Men, a sort of thematic follow-up to the Brazilian drama City of God, which chronicled the lives of child-gangsters running riot with guns and drugs in the slums of Rio de Janeiro.

Two young actors who played 11-year-olds in the earlier film now play 17-year-old best friends, who've somehow managed to stay out of the gangs that have compromised the lives of their cousins. Ace (Douglas Silva) is himself a father, albeit a casual one, so easily distracted that he simply forgets his 1-year-old on an afternoon outing to the beach. Wallace (Darlan Cunha) is more serious, intent on tracking down his father, a quest that takes him to the local prison.

Despite their independence from the gangs, the two young men find themselves on opposite sides of a neighborhood war in a film that eschews the documentary-style brutality of City of Men in favor of a soap opera-ish quality — though it's a soap opera in which children have children, machine guns are so prevalent no one blinks when they fire, and 35-year-old grandmothers get burned out of their homes on a whim.