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By Allen White | May 17, 1999

This partially staged documentary is a powerful glimpse into lives of extreme desperation lived on the fringes of four major cities; Bombay, New York, Mexico City, and Moscow. The film’s stated theme is survival, and the remarkable extremes that people will go simply to exist.
We meet such individuals as an Indian color-sifter trapped in Bombay because of lack of cash, a Mexican stripper and single mother of several children, a New York petty grifter who cons suckers and robs gay men to support his large heroin habit, and a group of Muscovite street-urchins who live via petty theft and begging like latter-day Dickensian waifs. These are only a few scattered close-ups into the hard-scrabble existences of the millions of others who disappear into the teeming masses. A notable commonality in these disparate lives is lack of self-pity; they do what they must without time for tears.
Many of the film’s remarkable and gritty images will undoubtedly lead viewers to evaluate the relative success or failure their own lives, or cause them to feel thankful for what they have. “Megacities” is sure to leave you with the idea that many people live lives that we cannot possibly imagine, and may indeed ourselves be unable to endure.

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