Saturday, April 13, 2013

Tsotsi - Movie Review

This one brings a tear to the eyes, a tug to the heart and leaves images that will last for a long time. As intense as any, dripping violence as easily as love, caring that is not within the capacity of normal people, 'Tsotsi' leaves you spellbound. Based on a novel of the same name written by Athol Fugard, it won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 2005.

Tsotsi is a young thug. Tsotsi itself means thug, and the young gang leader who has come up the hard way from a life in concrete pipes in a slum outside Soweto, is a ruthless and lonely young man. His gang members consist of Boston alias Teacher who is the most well read of them all, Aap a blood thirsty killer who specialises in killing with a screw drover kind of an instrument and the big and jolly Butcher who follows Tsotsi his best friend. The gang members don't know Tsotsi's real name, which we later know is David. Life's good until one robbery goes wrong when an over enthusiastic Aap kills the victim. The Teacher protests at this murder and Tsotsi assaults him leaving him badly injured. Hiding from the others after that brutal assault Tsotsi makes an independent hit and attacks a rich young woman outside her home and steals her car. When she tries to stop him, he shoots her and goes away with the car. After he goes some distance he finds that there is a baby in the car. The mother is injured but she survives. A massive man hunt is launched for the baby.

Tsotsi takes the baby home to his slum in a shopping bag and tries to care for it. When he finds it difficult he finds a single mother in his neighbourhood, threatens her, and gets her to feed and clean the baby. News of the kidnapping is out and Tsotsi's face is in the papers. As Tsotsi gets more attached to the infant, he finds himself thinking of his lonely childhood when he ran away from his sick mother and abusive father and grew up in the pipes. He names the infant David.

Eager to get more comforts for the infant Tsotsi goes with his gang to the same house again for the baby's things but does not tell his friends Aap and Butcher. When Aap tries to kill the baby's father Tsotsi kills Aap. Now overcome with a new emotion of love, Tsotsi gets Boston to his home and cares for him, leaves the baby at the young woman's home and tells Boston to take his teacher's exam. The police meanwhile come closer to identifying Tsotsi just as Tsotsi realises that the baby is better off with its mother. When he returns with the baby to its home Tsotsi is trapped by the police.

The last scene where Tsotsi struggles to leave the baby but cannot is gut wrenching. His face says it all in those few moments when he is surrounded by the police all around, the baby in his arms, and the father and the mother of the baby urging him to give the baby and the police to put their guns down. The tears on Tsotsi's face are understood only by the father of the baby who knows that Tsotsi had come to return the baby and could have easily gone away if he wanted to before the police came. The others probably think that he cries at being trapped. But that scene will stay forever and you can almost feel the softness of the baby against Tsotsi's chest, probably the only unconditional love he has received in his life. You know then that in that moment Tsotsi's love for that child cannot be any less than anyone else's, his sacrifice no less and you end the movie with hope. Love after all is the final conqueror in the movie and irrespective of what happens next, Tsotsi's heart has felt and seen love and he cannot be poorer for that.

It's been a while since a movie has touched me so and I want to watch it once again before I return Ram's DVD to him. Anyone who is game for an intense, beautifully crafted movie, don't miss it if you have a chance to watch it.

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