Tsotsi

Bomb Rating: 

Directors and writers always like to find that one really bad guy who is redeemed by babies and lambs and puppies.

Here's a lesson for all filmmakers looking to make their mark and possibly win an Oscar: Just stick a baby in your picture and you've got it made. Seriously, if you can make a cute baby the centerpiece of your picture somehow without getting all cutesy and disgusting, you're well on your way to Oscar glory.

This film is based on a well-known novel, though I've never heard of it, which automatically qualifies it as esoteric, pseudo-intellectual crap. It tells the story of a small-time gang leader named Tsotsi (Presley Chweneyagae), who lives in Soweto, outside of Johannesburg. One day, Tsotsi shoots a mother, steals her car, and later discovers that her baby is inside. Instead of just tossing the baby off a cliff, Tsotsi becomes overwhelmed by the infant's innocence, and keeps it.

The film basically suggests that nobody, no matter how cold-hearted, can refuse the crying of an infant. This, of course, is about as true as the sun rising in the west. There are lots of people who don't like babies and would just as easily toss them onto the highway as they would step on an ant. Directors and writers always like to find that one really bad guy who is redeemed by babies and lambs and puppies, whose experience with them transforms his life.

Tsotsi means "thug" incidentally. Can you imagine if this film had been an English language film and everyone just referred to the character as Thug? It wouldn't work. But because everyone is speaking another language, Tsotsi is Tsotsi and it sounds cool and the audience is happy when what the characters are really saying is "Hey, Thug, how's it going?"

Because this film has an infant and a bad guy, you can bet that as the film drags on, Tsotsi is transformed completely. He finds a woman, Miriam (Terry Pheto), who he forces to help him take care of the baby, and you can bet that Miriam starts to see beyond Tsotsi's hard demeanor and you can also bet that Tsotsi starts being nice to Miriam and that, by the end of the film, there almost seems like there's a future for them. In some really bad movie, they hook up in the end. I guess this is just a moderately bad movie because the director just leaves that possibility hanging out there.

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