Stephen Daldry’s Trash sets its story amongst the brave hearts of the young: three Brazilian kids (played by first-timers Tevez, Luis, and Weinstein) who make a hard-scrabble living scavenging on a vast dump on the outskirts of Rio and find a wallet whose contents severely implicate the corrupt powers-that-be. Richard Curtis wrote the script, and his slightly over-sentimental humour is much in evidence as the boys pit street-wise savvy against the odds – aided by an American aid-worker/priest (Sheen) and his spunky assistant Olivia (Mara).
Slumdog is one obvious predecessor here. And like most movies involving a youthful challenge to authority (from Albert Lamorisse’s Le Ballon Rouge to Daldry’s own Billy Elliot) its success rests on the slim shoulders of young protagonists. As with Lost River, the score is an essential aspect of mood. Antônio Pinto’s choral-percussive compositions are both an elegy to youth and the drumbeat of threat, underscoring a narrative that sticks to the kids like glue as they rip their way through favelas into the real heart of human darkness. Although less fresh than Gosling’s debut, Daldry tones down the polish of his directorial experience to provide an experience of social netherworlds that may not be adventurous, but remains satisfying.
Trash | Directed by Stephen Daldry (UK, Brazil 2014) with Rooney Mara, Martin Sheen, Rickson Tevez, Eduardo Luis, Gabriel Weinstein. Starts June 18
Originally published in issue #139, June 2015.