Lower City Review

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Two petty criminals , friends since high school, cruise about on their motorboat for kicks, with little ambition and achieving less. In the same instant, they both fall in love with Karinna, a local prositute. A highly charged love triangle ensues.


The timeworn ménage à trois gets a splash of fiery Tabasco in Lower City, a Brazilian movie so bald-faced about its sex, sex, sex that it establishes its two-man-one-hooker love triangle at a cock fight (feel free to insert your own joke here). Shot in the dicey slums of Salvador de Bahia, the hype may well liken it to a Viagra-chugging City Of God, but strip away the, er, stripping and really, you’ve got Jules Et Jim all over again. In fact, debut helmer Machado references Truffaut’s classic throughout, opting for a raw, handheld style that gives a sticky intimacy to the (ultimately) over-generous sex scenes. Impressive, too, that he should draw three forcefully red-blooded turns from his funky young cast. What nags is some rather desperate subtitling (“phat”?) and a banal plot as wafer-thin as Alice Braga’s wardrobe. Still, its heart, hands and glands are definitely in the right place.

Spunky performances and a dynamic, earthy style boost an otherwise predictable, albeit sexually-charged, latino love triangle.