City of Men

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The pressures of man hood have never been played out in a more diverse setting as teens Acerola (Ace) and Laranjiha take on the struggles of growing up in a slum in Morro Da Sinuca within Brazil. This film has definitely created a different scenario to the average boy going through the normality of manhood as these two boys are living in the midst of Gang warfare.

A montage, showing images of children, playing around having fun, rushing around the streets of the territory known as the hill, is the first indication of the 17 and 18 year olds, are leaving behind their childhood.  You are thrown forward into their lives; Ace being an unwilling, father to a young child, who has just began to walk and husband to Cris, they seem to be growing through life stuck as young teens.

The narrative follows the need for Laranjinha to find his father, before he becomes 18 years old, to know who he is and have him written down, on his new citizen card to be collected after his 18th birthday. However the down fall of their cousin know as Midnight, as the leading mobster of the hill, the boys are forced to grow up fast.

Ace’s wife Cris, gets offered a job in Sao Paulo, earning £30’000 for one year, enough for them to buy their own home and take off during the hostile take over of Midnights right hand man Nefasto, causing a split between the brother like friends. Larnajiha, runs to the safety of his father; having finally found him days earlier… a convicted murder who was released 5 years early on good behaviour. Ace is chased from the slum, narrowly missing his death.

Ace goes to Larnajiha, for shelter and help, but is turned away by him and his father that has never taken to Ace from the beginning when he reunited the both of them. Ace has no choice but to go, and finds himself with his cousin Midnight and his gang who, with the help of many others are planning a brutal attack and take over of the hill once more.

Midnight, revels the story of how Ace’s father died, saying only a traitor, would do such a think and turn his back on his own kin. This is the first time that Ace, has had to get up and take reasonability for himself and his family. And with the taste of revenge on his tongue, he is drafted into the new gang ready to fight for his own, for his dad’s memory, for the traitor that left him to die.

Putting two and two together when Larnajiha finally shows up to take him home to a safe place, and goes to apologise, for his fathers behaviour, for Ace is his really own family, not his dad, Ace throws abuse towards him, as he knows it was Larnajiha father that killed his own dad. A traitor in Ace’s eyes.

Leaving Ace to his own choices, Larnajiha runs back to his dad to find out the truth… Only to be disappointed to find that it was all true, that both dads were friends until, that awful night, when money mattered more then friendship. But before actually giving the full story his father is then arrested and taken by police leaving Larnajiha alone, for the first time in his life.  But he knows what he has to do. He is thrown into adult hood, hoping he has enough time to make everything right with Ace, and that they can finally go and become the real brothers they always where.

Ace is in the middle of trying to be a grown up, fighting for his own, for his father and for his son in the safe hands of his extended family. He was told to fight is a sign of growing up and that all he wants to do, he is fed up  being a child. Although when Larnajiha and himself come head to head, only a gun bridging the space between them, Larnajiha, gives the real meaning of growing up. “Do you want to leave you son fatherless like us.”  In this instant Ace, knows growing up means, teaching and caring for the one he has neglected the whole time; his son. He has to become a real dad to Clayton, provide for him and teach him all he needs to know. Suddenly snapped back into reality, the three of them leave the morning after the destruction and set off into an unsuspecting future… the end image shows all three holding hands, showing that the young teens are finally ready to become men.

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