Lower City (Cidade Baixa) (18)

Film image
Sergio Machado
Lázaro Ramos

The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner02/11/2005

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 97 mins

Opens London Film Festival: 31st October

Enjoyable drama that is like a cross between City of God and Y Tu Mama Tambien, with lashings of sex and violence and even the odd bit of cock-fighting thrown in.

The Background
It’s no surprise that Lower City is being billed as this year’s City of God, given its setting, its country of origin and its scenes of gritty violence. However, that’s pretty much where the comparisons end, as Lower City has a very different focus.

The Story
The title of the film refers to the poorer, lower part of the coastal city of Salvador, in the state of Bahia, on the north east coast of Brazil. Deco (Lázaro Ramos) and Naldinho (Wagner Moura) are two best friends who consider themselves to be like brothers.

They earn a living running things up and down the river, but their relationship is threatened when they meet Karinna (Alice Braga, niece of Sonia Braga), a sexy hooker/stripper who makes an immediate impression by offering to pay for her passage upriver with sex.

The Good
There’s a raw authenticity to the performances, undoubtedly in part because Ramos and Moura are best friends in real life. Both are immensely likeable actors - Moura, in particular, is like a sweatier, drugged-up version of Mark Ruffalo. Similarly, Alice Braga’s performance is genuinely sexy, although towards the end you start to resent her for not just picking one of them and sorting everything out.

The Great
Lower City is the feature debut of director Sérgio Machado (an assistant director on Central Station) and he creates a thoroughly convincing world that positively reeks of blood, sweat and sex.

The Conclusion
In short, if you enjoyed City of God and Y Tu Mama Tambien, then there’s a place for you in Lower City. Recommended.

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Content updated: 20/09/2018 10:06

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