Saturday, September 30, 2006

Lower City (Cidade Baixa)

Menage A Trois?

Two childhood friends, Deco (Lazaro Ramos) and Naldinho (Wagner Moura) meet Karinna (Alice Braga), a stripper looking for a cheap ride to the city of Salvador, in exchange for sexual favours with the boys. Who could pass up a blonde like that, and in record time, we see the friends getting it on with her inside their steamship.

It's actually an extremely simple story, with lacklustre sex, some flesh, and again, a short story premise being extrapolated painfully into a feature length movie. The central theme here is the disintegration of a deep brotherly friendship because of man's innate selfish nature when it comes to affairs of the heart, and how lust takes over to blind the dudes that it just isn't worth fighting over a slut.

If I may paraphrase a popular saying, why forgo your sights on the various bikes available in the store for the village bicycle, which everyone has ridden? If there should be any plus points for the film, then it would be the handling of this character exploration of the breaking down of a friendship. However, that alone isn't sufficient to garner your attention through the movie.

Alice Braga, the Brazilian actress who starred in City of God, looks good in the role, but seriously it's nothing to fantastic about it. Her Karinna is one seriously indecisive about the matters of the heart, though totally passionate about losing her clothes without batting an eyelid. While she realizes that her indecisive ways is causing havoc to the friendship of both men she likes, making some preliminary plans to escape the situation but not execute it doesn't help much too. What made it all worse, and this is directly linked to the story, is the frustration of leaving things just hanging in the air. The movie ends in similar fashion to Karinna's character - the inability to decide.

Oh, and the overrated scenes of the city, it's seediness, gloominess, etc, it's really all done in quick montages, or on location sets that doesn't offer you anything more than a sneak peek. Like its characters, the movie's delivery just doesn't make you care for any of them, or their self-inflicted plight.

All said, this movie will probably not get any thumbs up by the ah pek community. What they're primarily looking for, gets glossed over too quickly, bogged down by the characters trying to emote too much. I'm not sure how some can tout the supposedly steamy scenes as hot, unless of course they haven't got it in a long time.

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