Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund’s 2002 film, City of God, is a vortex that swallows the audience into its cyclic narrative that emphasizes the dangers of toxic masculinity and consequences of the notion “being a man.” As observed in the film, a twisted perspective of manhood can be a bullet that passes through one generation to the next, destined to extinguish them all.
Meirelles and Lund’s film is a stunning execution of a labyrinth-like storyline in which the audience delves into the lives of multiple characters. Then, through cinematic moves such as foreshadowing and flashbacks, seamlessly intertwines these plots that become a metaphorical domino effect. As the film progresses, and gradually strips down the plot, we observe how the actions of one character cause a steady disruption in the lives of everyone else. From the jarring, handheld camera scenes, to the drastic shifts in color gradients from deep, saturated blues, to honeyed yellows, the audience experiences the chaotic and disruptive life of the film’s gang members. Similarly, to the characters in the story, the audience is overtaken by this whirlpool narrative, trapped in “the slum [that had] been a purgatory.” But, “now it’s hell.”