Tsotsi; A Film Review
Tsotsi, a 2005 South African film directed by Gavin Hood, features a young carjacker named Tsotsi and his crew in a post-Apartheid slum, stealing and killing to make ends meet. In a solo act, Tsotsi hijacks the car of a wealthy, black South African home which had an infant in the back seat. Despite the traumas of his childhood, Tsotsi regains his grasp on morality as the responsibility of the stolen child alters his everyday perceptions of the world and people around him.
Although I had some logistic problems with the movie (such as the child being neglected on multiple occasions and still remaining healthy and alive), I thoroughly enjoyed the film. From a cinematic perspective, the director did a fantastic job on creating mood, suspense, and emotion, especially through his ample usage of face-shots that captured the underlying emotions going on between the characters. (I love a good story that doesn’t need words to explain it all!) The plot itself was slightly unrealistic, as Tsotsi eventually returns the baby and doesn’t get killed on sight by the surrounding police officers, but it also grappled with questions of humanity that can be hard to answer in an impoverished, violent, and cruel world. Mostly, Tsotsi encounters other people who have had the weight of the world’s cruelty on their shoulders as well, yet still manage to incite hope within themselves to keep going. At first, it seems that Tsotsi is resentful of such optimism, and his demons emerge to quash such positivity. Yet, having something as vulnerable and defenseless as a baby provokes Tsotsi to regain his direction in his volatile life.
My favorite scene was the interaction between Tsotsi and the crippled homeless man, who Tsotsi pursues to ask him some very philosophical questions. From an acting standpoint, both Tsotsi and the homeless man give some profound performances as they go back and forth between relating to one another and threatening one another. Ultimately, we see that Tsotsi’s violent behavior is his defense mechanism, which beautifully illustrates how trauma can isolate an individual from their world and themselves.