Sunday, January 2, 2011
From one film about a child's unexpected power to another. Gavin Hood's Tsotsi is a remarkable story about changing one's moral habits. There's always a reason for it, and in this case it's seeing the innocence of life. It's not a discovery for Tsotsi, a young criminal who seems to have no understanding or care for humanity. He simply sees it in the form of a child. As soon as he sees the baby in the back of the car he's just stolen, he sees something he's never seen before. That people are precious, not dispensable. Since his whole life's been built around the notion that survival includes taking the lives of others, Tsotsi changes immediately. Though his understanding of morality matures throughout the film, it's that first glimpse of the child that triggers the transformation. Tsotsi is a deeply moving film, yet not in the traditional way. The emotions we feel are merely in seeing Tsotsi make a change. He doesn't become friendly or a sudden good samaritan. It's just the fact that because of the baby he no longer maintains his rigidity and unscrupulousness. At the beginning he is terribly sad because the only way of life he's ever known includes blood. To see him abandon this way of living is nothing but inspiring. While watching the movie I was reminded of the largely unsung masterpiece from last year, Sin Nombre. The two movies share the theme of redemption while staying completely subtle and at times even abstruse. They're also quite grim, but more are more likely to strike a chord with the viewer than any recipients of the Truly Moving Picture award ever will.