“Lower City” (Cidade Baixa)

Yesterday I had to a chance to view the Brazilian film “Lower City” (Cidade Baixa). For those of you unfamiliar with the film it is about two Brazilian friends, one black and one white, who fall in love with a beautiful stripper/hooker. This is not a family film, and there are plenty of grimy sex scenes, but the film does a great job in depicting life in the slums of Salvador, Brazil.

The two friends meet the woman at a bar as she is trying to hitch a ride to another town and the two of them have a boat and they take her by water in exchange for having sex with both of them (apparently unprotected). However , the two become permanently connected, when one of the friends is wounded when he is stabbed after a brawl at a cockfighting match and the girl decides to stick around and nurse him ( while the other friend has sex with her). Jealousy ensues and the friendship is threatened by the woman who is trying to keep them both at a distance as she is pursuing her career as a ho. For a while the two men are enlisted in the scheme to help the group of hookers that the girl runs with by helping them get money out of American and Latin American tourists.

In order to run off with the girl the white guy decides to rob a pharmacy and take the proceeds to get an apartment and start a new life with the girl. The black friend decides to resume his career in boxing and start a life with the girl fighting. It is here where the depiction is totally unrealistic as the writer obviously had no clue as to how the boxing industry works. It is extremely rare that a fight is ever thrown or fixed in this day and age and guys do not fight every week. Salvador is the home of Brazilian boxing star Acelino Freitas, and he didn’t make it to the top of the game by having people fix fights for him, he got to the top because of hard work and talent.

The two guys end up in a bloody brawl and the girl is their to nurse the two of them as the film ends with some beautiful shots of the streets of Salvador and its black slums, prostitutes with movie-star looks, tourists, street vendors, and children. Of course the old saying is “never turn a ho into a housewife” and “a ho will always be a ho” and the two of them violated this rule. Ironically, this does happen in real life, and I have a friend of mine (a Muslim) who married a prostitute (and incidentally has a miserable marriage).

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