Trash, a journey to Brazil for Stephen Daldry
by Camillo de Marco
- Three young boys from the Rio favelas at the heart of a socio-political thriller with an incurably optimistic eco message of peace
For every ten million citizens a hero is born, a future leader who is fearless and thirsts for justice and truth. In Trash [+see also:
film profile] by Stephen Daldry there are in fact three; between about 12 and 14 years of age, and they work as plastic collectors in a huge landfill in Rio de Janeiro right beside their favela home. In Brazil they’re known as catadores. They earn enough to survive by collecting recyclable materials among the waste, to later sell it off again. The life of the catadores in Jardim Gramacho di Rio, the largest open air landfill, was wonderfully told in Waste Land, a documentary by Lucy Walker, João Jardim and Karen Harley, awarded at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and at the Berlin Film Festival and nominated for an Oscar.
In Trash, the three young boys are at the heart of a sort of socio-political thriller with an incurably optimistic eco message of peace. Indeed, the three find themselves in possession of a sort of code left by the right-hand man (Wagner Moura) of a corrupt politician who is running for mayor. This code hidden inside a wallet leads them to a huge sum of money and to the accounts book of the "kickbacks" that could nail down the bad guy. The boys want to throw light on the shady deals and get to the bottom of it all; more militant than political activists, they ignore the reward promised by the corrupt policemen let loose in search of the money.
Like a Brazilian version of The Millionaire [+see also:
interview: Danny Boyle
film profile] , these hyper active youths run, jump and slip into tunnels to escape the policemen who pursue them all throughout the movie, led by a young cutthroat and corrupt leader (Selton Mello). They are helped in their quest for truth by an American alcoholic priest (Martin Sheen) and a teacher (Rooney Mara) who work in the favela (recalling White Elephant [+see also:
film profile] by Argentinean Pablo Trapero).
Daldry, who is well versed in stubborn and hyper active teenagers (Billy Elliot) based Trash on the eponymous book, translated into 25 languages, by his fellow countryman Andy Mulligan. The director effectively illustrates a poor and dirty Brazil on the verge of collapse because of social inequality, just like the images of the 2014 World Cup illustrated. While lacking as a thriller, because it’s too forced, the movie reveals itself for what it really is: an elegant tale in a devastating context that can only be Rio, a symbolic metropolis of one of the countries known by the BRICS acronym; with an emerging economy and shattered by contradictions.
Trash is too perfect, just and correct not to be liked by a vast audience. It might not be appreciated by those who expect something rougher and closer to the harsh reality. Its release in the United Kingdom is scheduled for the end of January 2015, but already from the end of October the movie will be distributed in the rest of the world.
(Translated from Italian)