Tsotsi
PG-13
Entertainment: +3
Acceptability: +1/2

Cast: Presley Chweneyagae, Kenneth Nkosi, Terry Pheto. Written & directed by Gavin Hood.

Academy Award Winner for Best Foreign Film and based on the book by acclaimed author and playwright Athol Fugard, Tsotsi (meaning thug in the South African street language Tsotsi Taal) traces six days in the life of a young gang leader who steals a womans car unaware, in his panic, that her baby is in the back seat. A gritty contemporary portrait of ghetto life set amidst the sprawling Johannesburg townships, this affecting story is ultimately a redemptive tale of hope and the triumph of love over rage.

The day before, I saw three R-rated films, each more violent than the other, with men punching women in the face, children shooting their guardians, teen girls getting burned up in tanning beds. None of the violence had a point other than to make us cringe. There was no moral to the graphicness of their violence or the productions. The following evening, I saw Tsotsi, another violent movie. As soon as I heard the f-word spewing forth and saw the lead character beating up his associate, I got ready to walk out. Id had enough. But then something took hold. I felt this one was going to have a purpose, perhaps even a spiritual depth. I heard Jesus name used four or five times, but unlike how it is normally used, I sensed it was a foreshadowing. I cant explain it, except to say, Im very glad I stayed.

Suddenly I realized this film was a parable, a story about the seeking and finding of redemption. Though this young thug is full of rage and insecurity, enough to beat up an ally, threaten an old man in a wheelchair and shoot a hijack victim, he is mystically moved by this infant. And the longer he is around the baby, the more he opens up his heart. He even comes to an awareness of the need for forgiveness and salvation. I wont give the ending away, but the last shot is a symbolic illustration of a man surrendering his life. We know as we leave the theater that a miraculous change has occurred and we realize on the drive home that indeed, A child shall lead them.

Caution: Its replete with violent imagery and mood, plus around 30 harsh curse words. But keep in mind; different audience members have different sensibilities. While some wont be reached by the films message due to the objectionables, there are those who will relate to the harsh realities portrayed and see past the brutality. As for those who dont have to struggle with poverty, ignorance and daily danger, well, maybe it will remind them to be compassionate and patient. It helped me in that area.

If you do not wish to support this content, despite its affirmative ending, try this Video Alternative: Down In The Delta. A Christian mother sends her substance-abusing daughter to relatives down South. There, she learns about responsibility and the importance of family. With Alfre Woodard, Al Freeman, Jr., Wesley Snipes, Loretta Devine.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Miramax

Summary
Crude Language: obscene language is used to establish the characters, but I caught no bathroom crudities or sexual innuendo
Obscene Language: around 30, mostly the f-word
Profanity: 4 or 5 misuses of Jesus name
Violence: there are several graphic violent deeds used to paint the picture of the protagonists life; these violent actions include the stabbing of an innocent elderly man on a train, the brutal facial beating of a man, the shooting of a hijack victim; the point blank shooting of a man during a holdup; also a disturbing shot of a baby with several red ants on his face after an open can of cream attracts the bugs. Blood: some blood during a few scenes
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: a bare breast as a kindly young woman nurses a baby, but there are no sexual situations
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: one gesture made in contemptuous anger
Drug Abuse: some smoking and drinking, again used to define the leads world.
Other: Though it contains a positive message, I hope you will make your decision as to whether you should support this film after reading the above content. I hope those who see Tsotsi will be moved and those who have drawn the line when it comes to this kind of content will attend another film.
Running Time: 94 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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