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TrashDirector: Stephen Daldry.

Cast: Andre Ramiro, Rickson Tevez, Gabriel Weinstein, Rooney Mara, Martin Sheen, Selton Mello, Wagner Moura.

Certificate: 15

Running Time: 114 minutes

Synopsis: After discovering a wallet at the dumpsite where they work, three young boys in a Brazilian favela must work together to outwit corrupt cops and government officials, while risking their own lives.

The poster for TRASH gives a positive and SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE vibe. It looks bright and cheerful, when in actual fact, Daldry’s rather brilliant and surprising family film (despite the 15 rating) is more of a bittersweet look at childlike innocence in a world corrupted by the greed of adults.

The entire feel of the film is one of many mixed emotions and genres, which so easily could have failed miserably. It’s written by British romantic comedy legend Richard Curtis, yet has no romance and is closer to CITY OF GOD than NOTTING HILL. Taking it’s cue from CITY OF GOD, three non-professional actors are cast as the boys, and they bring all the natural charisma and personality that many trained children lack. They are cool, funny, lovable, but also obviously hardened by a less than fair world. Their support comes in the form of big name Hollywood stars Martin Sheen and Rooney Mara, who may well dominate the poster, but certainly allow the boys to truly shine while they merely add colour and compassion to the supporting roles.

The film is certainly a family feature, as it caters for all ages. The boys become entangled in an adventure, which is the equivalent of a treasure hunt against the bad guys. However, these aren’t cartoon creations, they are genuine monsters from the world of grown-ups. The boys are beaten, and their lives are at risk. This violence is what gives the film its rating, and although toning it down would have allowed for a bigger audience, it would have undermined the powerful impact it makes. It is rare that filmmakers try and show the jovial fun of childhood and cruelty coexisting in the same world.

Curtis’ screenplay effortlessly jumps around from locale to locale, from character to character, and from genre to genre. Certain sequences are fun and exciting until you remind yourself of the consequences. Ramirez, Tevez, and Weinstein are little stars in the making. There is no arrogance, just honesty. Ramirez is a strong but naive lead, who puts up a great front, but can also crumble like any child. Imagine a rebellious but lovable rogue from your childhood, such as Dennis The Menace, and then place them in a Brazilian favela where the police could come and cave their head in. It’s intense and powerful, and keeps you on the edge of your seat.

There’s so much going on throughout TRASH, yet one thing that is prevalent throughout is heart. Even the smallest of roles feels complete, and all motives are understood. This plays against a backdrop of unforgettable locations, including huge dump sites, packed favela’s, haunting churches, terrifying prisons, and heavily policed houses of the rich. Not to mention an eerie cemetery that plays a key role later on.

CITY OF GOD meets THE GOONIES in a wonderfully inventive and hard hitting adventure. Against all the odds, Daldry manages to perfectly fuse the joy of childhood exploration and friendship, with a blistering social commentary that attacks inequality and government corruption. Making such important issues accessible for all is nothing short of genius. TRASH could very well open young people’s eyes, and at least plant the seeds of conversation regarding such difficult issues. A bittersweet film of great importance.

[usr=4]TRASH is released in cinemas from 30th January.