Antonia tells the story of four friends from a poor district in São Paulo that endure tremendous adversity as they struggle to stay together in their quest for success as a music group (Antonia). The latest from acclaimed director Fernando Meirelles, whose television series “City of Men” has achieved international acclaim, Antonia utilizes similar stylistic techniques, i.e. cinema verite in lots of quick cuts.

Yet the result is nothing so jarring. On the contrary, Antonia is a beautiful and elegantly constructed film that rings of authenticity. This effect was doubtlessly aided by the fact that the director chose to use actors with little professional experience whose real life stories were similar to those portrayed in the film.

A scene between two of the women as they resolve an argument they’d had over a man was so true to life I found myself shedding tears. It’s this kind of honest storytelling about simple, everyday issues that the world so drastically needs today, if only to reaffirm our essential commonality.

Antonia is essentially the story of how individuals struggle for hope, how they use their art to affirm what is beautiful and sacred in life. It’s about learning to smile again even through enormous suffering. In short, Antonia is a fabulous film that deserves our highest regard.

Grade: A+ Antonia releases in select theaters Sept. 21.