Has nothing to do with the Brazilian movie.
A Tamilian, Swarnavel, working at construction sites in Kochi city is attracted towards another Tamil woman Marathakam. Marathakam had actually eloped away from her abusing husband, leaving her little child under the care of a grand mother. There is also another guy who would like to marry Marathakam. When Swarnavel is just about to settle his life with Marathakam, her husband arrives. Swarnvel and Marathakam is running away from this cruel husband who is also a policeman in Tamil Nadu.
Jyothilal is a close friend and henchman for Sony, a real estate don in the city, who will do anything for Sony. Sony was reluctant to marry his love, Surya prabha, and left her, but when Surya turns into an upcoming film star, he want to reinvent their love. But Surya is married to another guy, who is be friended by Sony. Sony doesnt mind Surya being a wife, but just want to continue his love life with her and Surya is not for it.
When a business man from Dubai, who promised to sell a prominent land to Sony, change his mind Sony asks Jyothilal to kill him. The business man's wife, Viji, wants to revenge her husband's death and takes the help of Shameen, another real estate don.
Basically there are three main characters, Swarnavel, Jyothilal and Viji. Jyothilal's and Viji's lifes are connected because of the killing of Viji's husband, but the life of Swarnavel has nothing to do with these two, except that he is working in a site owned by Sony. However, at different points they cross each other and the movie is about these three characters, especially Swarnavel and Jyothilal, who come across incidents which are inter connected to others. Still Swarnavel, Jyothilal and Viji, even at the end of the movie, doesnt have a direct eye contact on each other is a good element on the script.
Lijo Jose showed some promise as a director with his first movie Nayakan. He wanted to take his second attempt to another level and he did have a good plot and script. But one matter that he chose to create a feeling of difference, is to show the same incident from the versions of two or three major characters. I simply didnt understand why he chose this way, because this is not a new style at all for most cine goers. Ameros Perros, Michael Clayton and there are many other famous movies which tried this. And even in South Indian languages, Virumandi and Yuva and even the recent Traffic used this style. I am not sure he used this style for a difference or for something novel or he thought that was the best way to say this story. Whatever, he has over done it, is the major draw back for City of God, which otherways is a very good movie. If he had used this style, showing the same scene from the angles of various characters, only for a couple of major incidents, it would have been still good. But he used it even for some very silly scene and that really created a negative impact on the movie is beyond doubt.
Another point which was a set back was the shaky camera. It is an excellent technique, but it goes to a level enough to stress your eyes. But otherways the cinematography is really good and this is one movie which can claim back the credit that settings of Malayalam movies are the most realistic, in Indian cinema, even in main stream movies.
I would have also preferred if the roles of Swarnavel and Marathakam were done by some real Tamil actors. Whatever, Malayalam is still poor when it comes to casting. Our directors are unable to look the otherway as far as actors are considered. Inspite of that, Indrajith who played Swarnavel deserves some award for the way in which he has done his job. He is more than excellent. Most actors did their job well, but three small characters, for me, requires special mention. Rohini, who played the midlle aged Tamil woman in the slum, the actor who played Shameen and the actor who played the thief, who wanted to marry Marathakam. Out of these it was Shameen who really surprised me. His is a very small role, nothing to do at all, but his subtle seductive looks at Viji were brilliant.
I would still say Rima Kallingal, playing Surya prabha, might have to improve her Malayalam accent, if she wants to look at Malayalam movies seriously. Right now she is just fine with her expressions. But the moment she speaks, it sounds like a funny TV anchor who speaks Malayalam with English accent.
Except for all th e above points, I would say, City of God is an excellent attempt and a good watch. In fact I was happy to see a contemporary story picturised nicely, in Malayalam. Some of the scenes; the problem in the cinema theatre, the scenes in the bar where Swarnavel is pursued to agree for Marathakam's marriage, the fight scene in the hotel parking etc were so brilliant that I am sure Lijo Jose Pellisserri is the most promising young director Malayalam have seen.
I just wish, the movie had tried a bit more straight forward style of story telling in some of those scenes where the scenes are repeated from different angles.
Also, the movie could have used a different title.