‘Tsotsi’ was the 2005 film directed and written by Gavin Hood. Based on the novel by Athol Fugard. David is a former runaway turned gang leader named Tsotsi (Presley Chweneyagae). He staked out a wealthy homeowner. The home invasion comes later. Right now it’s the Mercedes he wants.
He robs Pumla (Nambitha Mpumlwana) at gunpoint. When she tries to take something from the vehicle he shoots her. Later he finds out her child was in the backseat. After freaking out, Tsotsi takes the child with him.
Things unravel after Butcher (Zenzo Ngqobe) stabs a mark to death. When Butcher least expects it Tsotsi kills him. This may have been his first murder. Boston (Mothusi Magano) constantly drones on about karma, morality and etc. One day at the shanty bar, Tsotsi snaps and nearly beats his friend to death.
The beating was a wakeup call for Aap (Kenneth Nkosi). Tsotsi is his father/brother/ caretaker. He fears Tsotsi will turn on him next. Later he decides to leave the thug life before that happens.
The film incorporates AIDS orphans, fatherless children and abandonment issues. Tsosti did whatever it took to survive. Plagued by a new found conscience, he atones for the wrongs he committed.
Cunning outlaw living in a Wild West shanty town. Frienemies can turn on you at any moment. The only one you can trust is yourself. Socioeconomic isolation. Then there’s the baby. Tsosti has no idea what to do.
He forces a young single mother Miriam (Terry Pheto) to breastfeed the toddler. Then he allows her to be the nanny and keep the infant in her home. People might think they’re lovers or that he’s paying for her affections. He’s attracted to her but never takes advantage. Being with her is the closest he’s had to a real family in years.
He’s bonded with the toddler. Tries to be the father he never had. He gives the baby his old name. As a way to relive his life over again. In the end, Tsotsi realizes returning “David” to his parents is the only way both can reach their full potential.
The good: The best moments are without dialogue. When the camera focused on Presley’s expressive face and eyes. He hates that the baby’s parents are rich. Delights in trashing the place. Then he finds the nursery.
He takes care not to harm anything. This is the moment when he wanted to switch places with the baby. If only this was his family he could have nice things and never want for anything. The sense of longing is palpable and heartbreaking. When he takes stuffed animals you feel it’s more for himself than the child.
The bad: The years of abuse and hopelessness that turned innocent David into apathetic Tsotsi.
The ugly: No sequel. If a present day sequel is made hopefully it will continue Tsotsi’s path to redemption.
Enjoy this review? Receive email alerts when new reviews are available. Just click on the “Subscribe” button above.