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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Various Artists

Published May 2, 2006


Fernando Meirelles’ deeply moving portrait of coming of age in Rio’s favelas (slums) served as a landmark film in 2002. The true-to-life violence and graphic nature was a face slap to Hollywood’s unrealistic building explosions. The soundtrack, composed by Antonio Pinto and Ed Côrtez, is equally monumental. City Of God traces the movie’s more buoyant moments—the youthful freedom of passage rites—with roots and funk-samba a la ’60s-’70s. There are darker moments, as on the haunting simplicity of “Na rua, na chuva, na fazenda” and “A Transa,” yet a hopeful air persists. The opening “Meu nome é Zé” and “Vida de otario” would send Jorge Ben to the dance floor, while “Metamorfose Ambulante” rivals Veloso’s balladry in beauty. Following is the handclap waltz of “Nem vem que nâo tem,” and we return to Bene’s departure celebration. Brewing in the composers’ heads for four years, temperance paid off well: this is simply one of the fullest, most gorgeous soundtracks to ever pass before this reviewer’s ears, and that list is numerous.