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I came away from this film impressed by its narrative control but unmoved by anything it had to say. Based on a novel by Paulo Lins, it takes place in the 1960s and 70s in a lawless slum of Rio de Janeiro where feral youths eagerly matriculate into bloodthirsty street gangs. Directors Katia Lund and Fernando Meirelles note the seductiveness of violence (one new recruit insists that no innocents be killed but almost immediately violates his own edict) and the cyclical nature of poverty (once all the major combatants have been murdered, a new gang of kids stands poised to take over), but I have a hard time believing that the film’s criticial popularity reflects anything but its nonstop action and astonishing body count. In Portuguese with subtitles.