We gave it a B
The four sad stories of struggle among Latin-American immigrants in New York City that make up The City (La Ciudad) are enacted by actual Latin-American immigrant nonprofessionals and are touching and terrible. In their stark, black-and-white visual style, they are redolent of Italian neorealist cinema or fine muckraking WPA photojournalism.
But there’s also something mucky itself about filmmaker David Riker’s employment of amateur actors (what was their pay rate?) for his collectivized stories, no matter how true the varied details of the docudrama. In one story, day laborers risk death for an opportunity to earn 15 cents for each brick they scavenge in a derelict building; in another, a man who lives with his daughter out of his old station wagon learns he can’t enroll the girl in school because they have no legal address. Between parables, individuals pose for portrait photos, their faces suffused with immigrant mystery.