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Gavin Hood
Anthony Head

The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner15/03/2006

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 94 mins

This year's City of God – an impressive, beautifully made film that marks director Gavin Hood out as a talent to watch.

What’s it all about?
Presley Cheweneyagae plays Tsotsi (a nickname which means, appropriately, thug), a violent hood, whose gang perform a shocking robbery and murder on the Johannesburg tube in the opening sequence.

After brutally beating one of his own gang (for expressing remorse), Tsotsi shoots a woman and steals her car, only to discover that there's a baby on the back seat. The rest of the film concerns Tsotsi's redemptive attempts to look after the baby.

The Good
Hood maintains a constant level of tension, aided considerably by Cheweneyagae's magnificent performance. He also has a strong eye for memorable images. In addition, the film is not without humour – indeed, it’s easy to imagine the entire film being remade as a vomit-inducing Hollywood comedy.

For once, the inevitable comparisons with City of God are justified – Hood creates a portrait of ghetto life that’s thoroughly convincing, thanks to Lance Gewer’s gorgeous cinematography and impressive location work (the film was shot in the poverty-stricken townships outside Johannesburg).

The Bad
Dog-lovers should note that there's a really horrible flashback scene that you may find it hard to sit through, just as some may find the initial scenes with the baby disturbing.

Worth seeing?
Tsotsi deserves to find a decent audience despite its somewhat off-putting title. It’s unquestionably worth seeing and it will be interesting to see what Hood does next. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 21/11/2019 06:42

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