South Africa and Brazil have a lot in common when it comes to corruption and to poverty, so I was interested to see this 2014 movie based on a novel, also named Trash, by Andy Mulligan. It feels more Hollywood than third world (although it is a Brazilian-British movie), and the ending is one of those feel-good happy ones. The underdogs beat the system. If that’s a spoiler for you, I apologise.
Trash is a thriller/drama/adventure film and it is directed by Stephen Daldry and stars Rooney Mara (Sister Olivia), Martin Sheen (Father Julliard), Wagner Moura (Jose Angelico) and Selton Mello (Frederico Gonz) together with three young actors, Rickson Teves (Raphael), Eduardo Luis (Gardo) and Gabriel Weinstein (Rato).
The three heroes are adolescents and if our young people have reading skills adequate to cope with the occasional sub-titles they might enjoy it. The movie is in Portuguese and English.
The movie works mostly because of the wonderful acting of the three teenaged heroes who live in one of the many Brazilian favelas in an unnamed city (corruption and poverty are ubiquitous), spending their days sorting trash at one of the dumps. One needs only the most cursory of acquaintanceships with Brazilian culture to make sense of the movie – again a mark of the American origin and the international target audience. All round it is not as dirty as one knows dumps can be, but I suppose actors don’t want to get in and around real smelly, dirty and potentially unsafe dumps.
What I did find far fetched is that school dropouts could deal academically with the fairly complex issues they faced, including reading, memorising, decoding and a degree of computer literacy including internet research skills.
My favourite character in the movie is the priest, Father Julliard, a social activist with a drinking problem and a heart for the poor. The one least suited to the movie is the late introduction of Pia Angelico the daughter of an earlier character, Jose Angelico. Out of place, I felt, and I wondered if she were stuck in at the end in return for funding.
All round this is an entertaining movie. 7/10.