Review: Trash


Stephen Daldry delivers an inspiring story with perpetual young talent and an unconventional ending.

Trash, directed by Stephen Daldry who is most renowned for Billy Elliot, sheds light on Brazilian poverty, police brutality and government corruption in a film that is scripted in classic Hollywood style by Richard Curtis (and translated by Felipe Braga.) and set in Rio de Janeiro. It is in Portuguese with English subtitles.

Trash demonstrates shedloads of young talent and successful debuts. The film follows three 14-year old Brazilian landfill pickers. Young and determined, Raphael Fernandez (Rickson Tevez) finds a red purse containing not only cash but also cryptic clues to an important mystery. He, his best friend Gardo (Eduardo Luis) and a third accomplice Rato (Gabriel Weinstein), hide the discovery from the police as the secret items belonged to Jose Angelo who was working to expose the fraudulent government before he was pitilessly murdered. The young Brazilian trio see the chance to help their community, and embark on a journey to do what is ‘right,’ hoping to finish the late Angelo’s work and unveil the cracks in government elections. Their journey sees Raphael viciously beaten by police, a visit to a notorious prison and the digging of a grave for ten million Reals (R$.) As information unravels throughout, the plot thickens. There are intervals with video-style footage, documenting the boys’ journey, which help explain the storyline and highlight friendships. Trash is thrilling to follow, especially with its well-edited chase scenes.

It is astonishing that the three main characters spoke no English and had no previous acting experience. In criticism, American actors Martin Sheen and Rooney Mara are not given enough personality despite being highly billed in the film’s credits. However, they help westernise the film (though it is clearly a Hollywood production), while language and location give Trash its cultural touches.

The ending is unrealistic and not what is customary of a social-justice film. Nevertheless, the last few feel-good scenes produce a pleasant ending with the boys’ struggle paying off. The scene of Raphael and Gardo tossing two thirds of their millions across the landfill for their favela community is heartwarming and beautifully colourful.

Trash has been compared to Slumdog Millionaire, but the production certainly has its own original qualities. The suspense-ridden mystery is enjoyable: it even manages to include faith and humour amid the squalor and violence of the narrative’s darker encounters making Trash definitely worth viewing.

Trash (2014), directed by Stephen Daldry, is released in UK cinemas by Universal Pictures, Certificate 15.


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