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Movie Review: Tsotsi

Posted on March 29, 2007

TsotsiTsotsi is a fantastic and very powerful film set in modern South Africa. The story itself focuses on a man named Tsotsi who has truly been dealt some rough cards in life which we learn about primarily through quick flashbacks that pop up throughout the film.

Tsotsi has ended up as a small time gangster who lives in one of the “shanty” towns in South Africa by the time we meet him. He has some friends that help him in his mischief but they seem human (well, except for one of them who is a crazy murderer but that’s another story). Tsotsi, however, seems to have lost has lost his humanity completely. He’s cold and ruthless even to his own friends.

The film really kicks into gear when Tsotsi decides to pull a big job in the rich neighborhood that can be seen from his village. Once in the nice suburbs he carjacks a woman and as she runs to the car to try and stop him from driving away he shoots her. As he pulls away he realizes that there is a baby in the car as well and has to decide what to do with it.

Ultimately Tsotsi decides to care for the child and through caring for it he rediscovers his humanity and his compassion. His journey is a very touching one and I have to commend writer/director Gavin Hood as he artfully frames the story from the first minute of film. Presley Chweneyagae also does an incredible job of playing Tsotsi. He’s is very believable and makes the transition from heartless to caring in a very real way.  It doesn’t feel contrived for even one second.

This film is truly a must watch so please head out and pick it up or add it to your Netflix queue. For your Oscar buffs out there it should also be noted that this film won the 2006 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film which it very much deserved.

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