Preview: Lower City
We could definitely use more sexy, Brazilian films in this summer's line up. We could also use more films by people associated with The Motorcycle Diaries (Sergio Machado was once the assistant to Walter Salles, director of the Diaries). Lower City will be the first to bring those to the screen as it follows a young, Brazilian prostitute who bums a ride to Salvador on a boat with two young men. Lots of sex and conflict follows. The similarities to Y Tu Mama Tambien seem strong, which is also a very good thing.
The impressive first feature by Sergio Machado, a one-time assistant to Walter Salles ("The Motorcycle Diaries"), is a trip through a grungy world of crime, sex and cockfights. Machado remains nonjudgmental while getting convincing performances from Braga and, as the young men, Lazaro Ramos and Wagner Moura.
In the end, “Lower City” is never quite as energetic as it wants to be, touched by the strange, milky lethargy that steeps every waterfront film. What verve it possesses should, I learn from the production notes, be attributed to Kundalini, the special pre-shoot exercise performed by the actors, which “sought to liberate their sexuality by means of pelvic movements.” I can see how that might do the trick.