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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Lower City
Lower City
Palm Pictures // R // September 12, 2006
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Francis Rizzo III | posted September 11, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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In 10 Words or Less
Sex, lies and hot Brazilians

Reviewer's Bias*
Loves: A good foreign film, Brazilian women
Likes: A good character study
Dislikes: Movies without real resolution
Hates: Depressing foreign countries

The Movie
There's nothing in life that will come between two friends quicker than an attractive member of the opposite sex (or in some cases the same sex. Sure money can cause problems, but you can share money. Try and share a lover, and most of the time you'll end up with one less friend and no lover (it just seems to work that way.)

So it's no surprise that smugglers Naldinho and Deco, a pair of lifelong friends from Brazil, quickly become combative when they both fall for Karinna (Alice "niece of Sonia" Braga), a gorgeous stripper/prostitute. While they both get to rail her often, neither wins her heart, as she views the sex simply as a good time.

As is often the case in films about the lower-class in a foreign land, crime is rampant and life is cheap. So it's not surprising when a random assault leaves one of our stars clinging to life. It's also no surprise that these violent, desperate acts are just story wallpaper, as the film motors forward, signifying little in the end, other than a depressing atmosphere.

In the end, the story here is not any of the transient threads of plot, but the shifting relationship between the two men and their whore. There's only so many ways the situation can shake out, which makes their personalities all the more important. In that respect, this movie has it made, thanks to Braga's presence.

Sexy doesn't begin to cover just what it is that makes her so compelling to watch. There's a filthy energy that pours forth from her that overshadows her castmates and makes it her movie first and foremost. That's not to say the two male leads aren't good, but they are a definite runner-up behind Braga.

Despite the beautiful locales Brazil offers, the film chose to spotlight the country's grimy underbelly, and yet, the film has plenty of visual pizazz to it. The filmmakers managed to transfer the dark heart of the film's characters to the settings, while not getting stuck in a murky mire.

If you can enjoy hanging with the future-less, or perhaps just get a few thrills watching them knock boots, this is an interesting way to spend a little time, but its not exactly a feel-good experience.

The DVD
Packed in a clear keepcase with a two-sided cover, Lower City arrives on one DVD, which features an animated anamorphic main menu that offers a choice to play the film, select scenes, adjust the languages and view special features. Language options include English and Spanish subtitles. There are no audio options.

The Quality
The gritty underworld of Brazil is depicted vividly in this anamorphic widescreen transfer, though there are spots where the film looks aged, like many of the BBC's films. Normally though, the film alternates between bright, consistent color and grimy, thick blacks. The level of detail is pretty high and the images are sharp, though there's some obvious grain during darker scenes.

The Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack delivers a hearty mix of dialogue and music, which hits its heights during the nightclub scenes, when the songs really pump. This is a quality track that does right by this movie, though there's nothing dynamic about it.

The Extras
There's a good deal of special features included on this DVD, starting with a 30-minute behind the scenes featurette that shows how the actors prepared for the film. At a half-hour in length, it covers a lot of ground, with interviews and on-set footage.

This segment is supplemented by a reel of cast rehearsals, which shows more of the actors' work on the movie, including some interesting stunt development.

A selection of deleted scenes expands on some moments in the film, wrapping up the disc, along with some trailers.

The Bottom Line
Lower City reminds me a lot of Y Tu Mama Tambien, Threesome, Keeping the Faith... Basically all the movies about tight love triangles out there. The big difference here is a much more interesting environment and a much grittier storyline. If you like to watch hot Brazilian dirtbags get their groove on and fight, then this disc has the film, presentation and extras for you. Otherwise, go watch Threesome again and enjoy yourself instead of getting depressed.


Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.

Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or his convention blog called Conning Fellow


*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.

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