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Movie Review: Tsotsti

Alternate Title: History of Violence

Story: Is it possible to take a reprehensible human being and turn him into a sympathetic character in under 100 minutes on the big screen? Director Gavin Hood does a credible job in this updated version of one of Athol Fugard's work published in 1960. The film is updated to deal with class rather than race but the essential tale remains the same.

Present day Soweto, the slum outside of Johannesburg, finds too many unemployed young people wandering the streets looking for prospects to rob. Our protagonist is like a feral animal who roams the night time streets looking for victims. They are frighteningly sociopathic seemingly without redemption.

During a carjacking and shooting Tsotsi (thug) unknowingly finds an infant in the back seat of the car. How this baby leads to repressed memories of family, empathy and redemption is the basis of the film.

Some of the film reminded me of Fernando Meirelles' City of God. It is worth your time and is one of the five nominated foreign language films this year.

Acting: A wonderful ensemble cast headed by Presley Chweneyagae.

Predilection: I try to see all of the Oscar nominated films.

Critters: No animal - human or otherwise is treated well.

Soundtrack: I love South African music and it is threaded wonderfully throughout the film. There are many toe tapping moments.

Theater Audience: A mixed audience of age, race and gender.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 4

Drift Factor: No drifting from me.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: A little weeping at the end.

Oscar Worthy: It obviously is Oscar worthy since it is nominated for this year's best foreign film. Another South African film, Yesterday, was nominated in 2004.

Big Screen or Rental:  For some other work by writer Athol Fugard try: Boesman and Lena, The Road to Mecca and Master Harold and the Boys.

Length: 100 minutes