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UKScreen Rating:

Tsotsi – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

It’s about a young gang leader named Tsotsi (Presley Chweneyagae), who lives in the dangerous and crime-ridden streets of Johannesburg, South Africa.
One night, after killing an old man and stealing his money, a gang member, Boston, dares Tsotsi to reveal his name. Tsotsi responds by attacking Boston viciously and then runs out in the dark, where he shoots a woman and steals her car.
As Tsosti drives a way, he hears a baby screaming in the car’s back seat. Startled, Tsosti brakes the car and staggers out and walks away. Unsettled by the baby’s screams, he returns and fetches it.
Tsosti keeps the baby in his shack and away from gang. He tries to feed him, but without success; the baby screams agonisingly. Then Tsosti forces a woman, Miriam (Terry Pheto), who also has a baby, to breastfeed the baby at gunpoint.
Miriam is initially frightened of Tsosti, but gradually she warms up to him and tries to mentor him. Tsosti, overwhelmed by feelings that he has long forgotten, starts to confront his own violent nature and reveal his painful past.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

This film reminded me of “City of God”, though it’s not as fast and brutal it’s equally entertaining and emotionally draining. But here the gangster’s world is just a backdrop for the emotional journey of Tsotsi.
The most striking element of this film is the main character, Tsotsi. His cold and hypnotic eyes pierce into your mind and don’t let go until the end. First you are terrified by it but as the story progresses and dives into his dark and brutal world, you start realizing that there is a gentle and loving soul behind these fierce eyes. Tsotsi, like his unlucky victims, is also a victim of a violent environment and, like everyone else, is trying to survive. Unfortunately, his only way of survival is crime.
There are some slow moments in the film but you don’t even notice it. That is thanks to rich photography, where colours and shadows are used to bring a unique world of deprivation, and fast paced and deeply emotional music that keeps you thrilled.
This is an emotionally powerful and thought-provoking film that will stay with you for a long time. It will also make you wonder why the movie industry spends so much money on hollow stars when there are such brilliant actors around.
It’s an OSCAR winner for best foreign language film and it deserves it.

Opens Nationwide 17th March 2006

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