2002 Certificate: 18


Exhilarating, unrelenting and furiously authentic, Fernando Mereilles' drama follows two brothers as they take different paths to adulthood in the favelas of Rio De Janeiro. With gangs ruling the streets, crime is the easiest way to makes ends meet... and end up dead. Nominated for four Oscars but criminally winning none, it's a dizzying look at life on the knife's edge.


  • Fernando Meirelles

  • Katia Lund


  • Seu Jorge

  • Alice Braga

  • Leandro Firmino da Hora

  • Matheus Nachtergaele

  • Alexandre Rodrigues


This stunning portrait of life in the shanty towns of Rio de Janeiro is an exciting insight into the resurgence of Latin American cinema.

A record 3.2 million Brazilians have seen Fernando Meirelles' third feature, which has now gone international and has been received with enthusiastic acclaim.

The cast who tell the tale of life in a violent and deprived world were chosen from the slums of the city and have never acted before.

Selected for their charisma, the boys were trained in improvisation for six months, and the result is a film which is only 30% script and primarily off-the-cuff.

The thrill of observing such raw talent draw an audience of hundreds into their terrifying world is almost enough to render story, script and cinematography redundant, but they would be impossible to ignore.

With sepia lighting, lighting-fast cutting and sharp dialogue throughout, there is nothing lacking in this provocative and moving film.

In a world where boys as young as 12 are handed guns for revenge attacks or for schoolyard fun, the harrowing action is uncompromising but never gratuitous.

Rocket - the narrator - watches his brother live the life of a hoodlum and struggles to refrain from the temptations of the fast money that can be realised from hold-ups and drug dealing.

With a passion for photography, he desires nothing more than to escape this town which is a constant battleground between rival gangs and corrupt cops.

With vibrant colour, boundless energy, thumping music and powerhouse acting, there has never been a South American film to touch this masterpiece.

Natalie Stone