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Tsotsi (R)

Release Date: February 24th, 2006 (Angelika Film Center and Lincoln Plaza Cinema) by Miramax Films.
The Cast: Presley Chweneyagae, Terry Pheto, Kenneth Nkosi, Mothusi Magano, Zenzo Ngqobe.
Directed by Gavin Hood.
In Zulu, Xhosa, and Afrikaans with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: When Tsotsi (Chweneyagae) accidentally steals a baby during a car theft, he confronts his thuggish lifestyle.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Tsotsi succeeds as both a gripping crime thriller and as a character-driven drama. Presley Chweneyagae gives a very captivating performance as the titular character. At first, Tsotsi, a young thug living in Johannesburg, comes across as a cruel, unlikable character that would kill any rich person just to take their belongings. He ends up with somebody elseís baby during a car theft and cares for it as if it were his own. Thus begins an intense second act when he must choose whether or not to continue his life of crime. After all, he lives in impoverished conditions and needs to support himself somehow, so violence is his easy way out. He even points a gun at Miriam (Pheto), a single mother, to force her to breast-feed his kidnapped baby. As Tsotsi becomes more likable, he becomes more complex and interesting as a character. Moreover, his actions in the third act are both surprising and unpredictable. To boost even more energy into the film, writer/director Gavin Hood he uses a very well-chosen soundtrack that features Kwaito music, which slightly sounds like hip-hop. He keeps the simple plot moving along at an effectively fast pace. On top of that, he also excels at making every scene feel realistic with superb cinematography and a true-to-life script that hooks you right into Tsotsi from beginning to end.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: What separates human and most animals is that animals donít stop to think about the validity or consequences of their actions. They kill simply because itís in their nature. On the other hand, human beings are guided by their conscience. Without a conscience to guide you, itís difficult to lead a life without sin. Even a criminal like Tsotsi can have a good heart, but the challenge is trying to look within find it. Tsotsi changes the way he looks at his life simply because, like Shakespeareís Macbeth, he found his conscience or his conscience found himó the result is the same whichever way you want to look at it. Itís very moving to watch him transform into a human being who feels remorse and regret over his amoral actions. His inward change shows true maturity and a rare, poignant moment when a criminal desires to immerge from a violent, sinful life.



IN A NUTSHELL: A gripping, poignant gem! Presley Chweneyagae delivers a captivating performance!

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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