Tsotsi (Gavin Hood). 94 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (March 3). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Tsotsi won the People's Choice Award at last year's Toronto International Film Festival, the Human Values prize at Thessaloniki and a best foreign film nomination for this year's Oscars. Its success indicates that there's almost no limit to people's taste for uplifting, sentimental horseshit.
Adapted by director Gavin Hood from a novel by Athol Fugard , Tsotsi presents a week in the life of a shantytown thug ( Presley Chweneyagae ) who's emotionally transformed by having to care for an infant child. The baby's in the back seat of a car he jacks after shooting the baby's mother.
Tsotsi is manipulative in the worst way. Hood assumes that if we see Tsotsi's sorrows and regrets, we can shrug off the horrific violence and abuse he inflicts on friend and victim alike. Buying his transformation at the end is like buying Darth Vader's reformation at the end of Star Wars -- the guy's killed planets, so what can redeem him? I didn't buy it for a second.
I did like Terry Pheto as the young woman Tsotsi forces to breastfeed the infant at gunpoint, and the secondary performances have some juice. Nice cinematography by Lance Gewer , though I suspect Hood's seen City Of God a couple of times too many. Good music.