Miramax Films | Release Date: February 24, 2006
7.8
USER SCORE
Generally favorable reviews based on 38 Ratings
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Positive:
30
Mixed:
6
Negative:
2
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5
MarkB.Apr 4, 2006
In the first few minutes of this overrated, not-so-hotsy South African character study, the nameless title character ("Tsotsi" means thug) and his criminal cohorts ask each other what each is going to do tonight. It's difficult to tell In the first few minutes of this overrated, not-so-hotsy South African character study, the nameless title character ("Tsotsi" means thug) and his criminal cohorts ask each other what each is going to do tonight. It's difficult to tell whether this is an indirect lift from the most famous line in Paddy Chayefsky's Marty, but if it is, it certainly wouldn't be this film's ONLY derivative element. Tsotsi might think that it's more powerful, insightful and moving than it is, but despite a compelling, persuasive lead performance by Presley Chweneyagae in the title role and direction by Gavin Hood (adapting Athol Fugard's novel) that comes off partially as Fernando Meirelles Lite, this comes off as watchable but fundamentally bogus sentimental hogwash that the USA's own Damon Runyon was doing in the 1920s and 30s, and it was hardly original when he was trafficking in it. (I mean, when's the last time YOU saw a movie that literally kicked a dog to gain unwarranted sympathy for one of the characters?) The film attempts to depict the way that Tsotsi, upon discovering the infant son of one of his robbery victims, Becomes A Better Person, but instead it comes off as the most ethically questionable watering-down of the criminality of a reprehensible, antisocial individual since Kevin Bacon's turn in The Woodsman. The fact that the movie's "hero" shows some humanity in caring for the baby simply doesn't cut much ice with me; in the current Thank You For Smoking, we see that the slimeball Big Tobacco lobbyist played by Aaron Eckhardt truly loves his son, but that doesn't make him any LESS of a slimeball. (The difference between the two films in this area is that Thank You's writer-director Jason Reitman is fully aware of this and isn't trying to convince anybody otherwise.) On the other hand, young mother Miriam (Terry Pheto) really IS genuinely admirable and heroic; when forced by Tsotsi to breastfeed the baby, she also voluntarily bathes and shelters him, even though he's not hers and she could be endangering her life and that of her son by not keeping her distance from Tsotsi. (Talk about living by the Biblical admonition of going two miles when being forced to travel one!) And it must be freely admitted that the baby himself, even by the incredibly broad standards of tiny babies with enormously expressive brown eyes and wearing light-blue jumpers, is so overwhelmingly adorable that in his presence even Richard Speck would most likely turn into Dr. Spock; Hood's dozens of closeups of the tot are a probable reason that so many people ARE visibly affected by this film. What's less understandable is why the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences absurdly chose this as Best Foreign Film of 2005 over the infiniterly more challenging and original Paradise Now, especially after displaying such insight and wisdom last year in choosing the provocative and moving drama The Sea Inside over the shopworn inspirational saga The Chorus, which was as hokey as this is. I can only guess that too many voters, allowing political pressure to get to them, misinterpreted Paradise Now as a justification of Palestinian terrorist suicide bombings (which it most definitely is NOT; it's too conveniently forgotten that a central character CHANGES HIS MIND about participating in the attack and spends a substantial part of the movie trying to prevent it) and went for the nice, safe choice. When Crash topped Brokeback Mountain for the big prize, I initially doubted that it was the result of right-wing hostility toward the so-called "gay cowboy" movie, but now...well, I'm not so sure. Expand
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6
MichaelL.Mar 14, 2006
Good directing/cinematography. acting was decent. Wasn't completely convinced that the main character was that bad initially. Why he kept the baby is beyond me. Though there are some points in the movie that give good portrayals of Good directing/cinematography. acting was decent. Wasn't completely convinced that the main character was that bad initially. Why he kept the baby is beyond me. Though there are some points in the movie that give good portrayals of conflicting morals and actions, I can't say this movie is one of the best foreign films ever. It is also very anti-climactic which gives a criminal like me less to look forward to. Expand
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6
aryanruleMar 1, 2011
Stretched out, nice idea but poor realisation. Main character great, book is much better. It took me 3 days to watch it properly so thats one of the reasons for only 6 points.
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