'Tsotsi' (2005) 200 Word DVD Review
April 26, 2009 § Leave a comment
Gavin Hood’s award winning drama is a powerful tale of redemption, set in the Soweto slums near Johannesberg, South Africa. The film focuses on the vicious, volatile ‘Tsotsi’ (literally translated as ‘thug’), a local gang leader, who unwittingly becomes the surrogate ‘mother’ of a small child after a carjacking gone wrong. Scared, frightened, Tsotsi is forced to look after the baby and to come to terms with his own upbringing and the mistakes he’s made along the way.
The film boasts an excellent central performance from Presley Chweneyagae as the complex, titular character. In the beginning we are introduced to Tsotsi and all there is to be seen is a cold-hearted, angry young man; as the story unfolds, the layers are gradually peeled away until instead of a heartless street-thug, we see before us a lonely, confused, young boy who’s lost his home. Gavin Hood, who both directed and wrote the script (adapted from the novel of the same name by Athol Fugard), wisely avoids using showy techniques and, instead, artfully places the camera to better capture Tsotsi’s isolation and beleaguerment.
It’s a quiet, moving and intelligent film; both a thoughtful, precise character piece and incisive social study.