Project 101

Dan attempts to watch 101 movies in 12 months

#16 Tsotsi

Posted by Dan on December 30, 2008

tsotsiposterI was looking for something fairly chunky and heavy-duty this morning for a movie, and I definitely got it with Tsotsi.

Golden Globe nominated, and winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006, as well as countless other awards around the world, Tsotsi takes place in the slums of Soweto in South Africa and centres around a small gang of African kids, lead by the emotionless Tsotsi, who will do anything to get what they want, including murder. After a fight that breaks out between Tsotsi and one of the other boys, Tsotsi runs off, and in an act of desperation, car-jacks a wealthy African woman and speeds off in her car, only to quickly find that the woman’s baby is in the backseat. Tsotsi takes the child back to his shed in the slums and starts to look after it. As the movie progresses, his dedication for the child finally teaches him empathy and decency.

Now, I know that the premise sounds corny, but it actually does work quite well. You get to know about Tsotsi, aka David’s past, growing up with an abusive drunk for a father, and a dying mother. It’s fairly heavy going through most of the movie, and there are some genuine moments of fear and panic throughout the movie as Tsotsi’s world starts to fall down around him as he tries to regain his new sense of responsibility and values.

To be honest, it’s hard to write about this movie without giving too much away. It’s a fantastic movie with a great lead with Presley Chweneyagae as the title character, supported by a great supporting cast. It’s wonderfully shot and captures the bleakness, and great juxtoposition of rich and poor in South Africa. I never really knew how to feel about the lead character in whether or not to pity him. He seems a very confused young man who finally starts to open his eyes to the world around him, and on his journey it’s hard to tell whether or not the person he’s talking to is about to get stabbed, or whether he genuinely is seeking some kind of deeper connection and understanding, but therein lies the beauty of this movie and the journey that Tsotsi takes.

I would highly recommend this one to anyone after a good solid movie-going experience. Definitely a hidden gem.

I give Tsotsi 3 and a half out of 5.

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