Based on the memoirs of a doctor, Drauzio Varella, who administered at São Paulo's most notorious prison, Babenco's film introduces us to a dozen or more inmates. These universally colourful characters spin wild tales of rough justice and betrayed innocence in flashbacks that give the stories a feel that's practically Runyonesque. It's entertaining, and you learn quite a bit about the do's and don't's of the Brazilian penal system (pray this never comes in handy), although the mise-en-scène feels terribly old fashioned after City of God - until a shocking dramatic climax wipes the smile off your face.

By: TCh

Release details

Duration: 145 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Hector Babenco
Screenwriter: Victor Navas, Fernando Bonassi, Hector Babenco
Cast: Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos
Milton Gonçalves
Ivan de Almeida
Ailton Graça
Maria Luísa Mendonça
Aída Leiner
Rodrigo Santoro
Gero Camilo
Lázaro Ramos
Caio Blat
Wagner Moura
Julia Ianina
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