Sometimes I wish I just weren't so cynical, because then I would get more from a movie like Tsotsi. Tsotsi is a movie whose plot is so obvious and predictable as to almost, but not quite, eradicate my viewing pleasure. We have a young, murdering brute called Tsotsi living in Jo-burg. One day he nicks a car and finds a little kid inside. Guess what?! He cannot bring himself to kill the kid, instead threatening a young single mother into helping him take care of it. Through her and the child, he sees some point to living a decent life.
What lifts this tale out of the truly banal and trite is the power of the acting by the entire cast, but especially Presley Chweneyagae who plays Tsotsi and Terry Pheto who plays the single mother. They give performaces of such subtlety and elegance - essentially you can take Al Pacino in any of his extravagent, shouty "hoo-ha" roles and inverse it, and you'll have what I mean. And I guess that if the performances have a quiet strength we must also praise the director, Gavin Hood, whose next picture I await with interest. Clearly Tsotsi is not the best foreign language film of 2005. This was a year that gave us HIDDEN, THE BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED and KUNG FU HUSTLE. Nevertheless, Tsotsi is worth viewing, even if you just wait to rent it out on DVD.
TSOTSI premiered at Edinburgh 2005 and went on limited release in the US on February 24th 2006. It goes on release in the UK on March 17th 2006, in Germany on May 4th, in Austria on May 18th and France on July 19th.