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City of Men

By Steve Erickson | Posted 2/27/2008

City of Men isn't a sequel to Fernando Meirelles' enormously popular City of God--it's a "follow-up." It revolves around two teens who are just about to turn 18--Ace (Douglas Silva), already a father, and Wallace (Darlan Cunha), who is obsessed with finding the father he's never known. Wallace and Ace live in a hillside Rio de Janeiro slum. Their hill is controlled by Wallace's cousin Midnight (Jonathan Haagensen), while Ace's wife, Cristiane (Camila Monteiro), plans to move to Sao Paulo for a job, forcing Ace to be a single dad. The title is deliberate: Men is a movie about masculinity and paternity, obsessed with absent fathers, whom it views as the root of urban Brazil's problems. It's not an uncommon perspective, merely simplistic. At its smartest, City of Men suggests that Brazil is one big dysfunctional family and points out that simply being a father doesn't make you a good one--a humanist remake of City of God in attempting to show how ordinary, decent people can get caught up in the ubiquity of crime and gangs in poor neighborhoods. Men is easier to defend but less pleasurable to watch.

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