Tsotsi! I like this film because it has power. It opens muscles flexing.
Athol Fugard wrote the book in the middle of the 20th century and Peter Fudakowski adapted it for the screen with the direction and writing skills of Gavin Hood. Fugard was very impressed. Everything in his wildest dreams, a film of great beauty and integrity, one of South Africa’s best so says Fugard.
In between the muscle flexing and climax of serious arrest, the movie is ambiguous, tough, graceful, The main character is a man of tremendous intrigue because nobody ever knows what he is going to do, and his actions are so extreme. He rips off the nose of his friend and turns away shyely so that the mother can nurse a helpless child in private. He is very mysterious, and it is this level of mystery that carries the film. Why? Because there isn’t much of a plot.
Without a plot, the story is still about something meaningful. Miramax Films presents Tsotsi. It means “thug” or “gangster” does the title.
This movie goes to great extremes emotionally. Grace, beauty, terror, freight. It incorporates music, authentic Kwaito from South African townships. It is sometimes hard, fast, and rough while at others slow, warm, and smooth. Very intelligent movie is it.
Not a lot happens really. The gangster, Tsotsi, rips some well to do lady off by jacking her car and finds out that she left a baby in the backseat. What does he do? Does he kill the baby? Does he nurture it? Afterall, he is a cold blooded killer. Interesting contrast, but that’s essentially where the plot stops until the great moment of truth, the moment where good and evil go to battle inside the head of this aggregate young soul.
Audience Award Toronto Film Festival 2005. Audience Award American Film Institute Los Angeles International Film Festival 2005, Audience Award Edinburgh Film Festival 2005. Michael Powell Award Edinburgh Film Festival 2005. It’s been well honored, and will be honored again at the 2006 Academy Awards as a nominee in the Best Foreign Language category.
The acting I really liked. It was very intense. It was taken seriously by the actors. It was respected for what it was, a challenge between good and evil and sometimes the good is what seemed evil while at others the evil is what seemed good like when he changed the baby’s diaper and rather than just let the kid frolic in the wind naked, he covered it with newspaper.
It seemed evil because you don’t wrap a baby’s bottom up with newspaper, but this guy could have let the kid frolic around in the wind naked and it wouldn’t have phased him one bit. Evil is a way of life for this guy, and stealing this baby gave him a chance to do some good. Did he do it? That’s the big question. Nobody really knows what is going to happen until the end because this main character is that psychotic. He is full of that much suspense and mystery.
In the end, I felt like I had watched a professionally made film, a film of great individuality and purpose. I was pleased. I left uneasy because of some things I saw, but content knowing that I had witnessed some fantastic art. That’s what art is. That’s why it is so questionable. This film is very questionable. It tries to make the criminal look like a hero.
Presley Chweneyagae and Terry Pheto star. They are the male and female leads respectively. Each is absolutey sensitive to the other’s touch. The relationship is dysfunctional. She is nursing afterall the poor baby he accidentally kidnapped. She knows he kidnapped the baby. She knows people are looking for him, but she never turns him in. She has great respect for him. Why? Because he’ll kill her. He’s a killer.
Chweneyagae’s character Tsotsi is supposed to be 19 years old in the film, but convincingly seems to be at least 23 at times while at others he could pass for 12. Watching some of the young children in this movie, the ones from the steel pipes that are used as stationary shelters made me realize how quickly poverty ages on the soul. This one little dude couldn’t have been more than 5, had the demeanor of a great grandfather, looked like a 3-foot senior.
This is probably why Tsotsi looked older than he really was. The experiences that he had at such a young age made him so old, not necessarily so wise, but so old and experienced looking like he had already been through it all. After sleeping outside for years, their was nothing you could tell this guy that he didn’t already know, except for maybe a surprise like there would be room for him in a shelter with 4 walls.
Poverty is obviously a major theme in this film. It’s what makes this crimial seem not all that bad because he has a a good heart, he’s just lived in the cold for so long. It begins to effect him seriously. In the end he has a choice and I wish I could say that he makes the right one. He can either give back the baby he stole, or not. I wish I could say he makes the right one.
In any regard, this film has got power. It opens muscles flexing, maintains a certain level of intrigue and mystery, and then ends under serious arrest. In any language, it’s a winner.