thu 18/07/2024

Trash | reviews, news & interviews



Director Stephen Daldry's three unknowns save the day

A star (or three) is/are born: the three smashing young leads in `Trash'

The director Stephen Daldry has always worked beautifully with young actors, whether on film or stage, so it's not difficult to see what might have drawn him to Trash, the Richard Curtis-scribed adaptation of the Andy Mulligan novel about life on the Rio de Janeiro scrapheaps.

An opportunity for three Brazilian unknowns to take centre-screen in a film spoken almost entirely in Portuguese, the movie gives an instant career to its three male newcomers while otherwise remaining mired in the feel-good Hollywood muck that even the most elaborate change in locale can't shift.

Equal parts adventure movie and morality tale with a padded ending that plays like some sort of Visit Brazil travelogue, the film's consortium of producers includes Fernando Meirelles, and one can only wonder what the filmmaker who gave us City of God might have done with the same material. As it is, Daldry's version has the buoyancy that comes with watching its central trio seize the opportunity of their young lifetimes, accompanied by pay cheques that should serve these real-life teenagers in good stead for some while to come. Martin Sheen and Rooney Mara (pictured below, with Sheen in profile) are along for the big-name ride, Mara in particular accommodating herself to the prevailing vibe (not to mention the language) with commendable ease. 

The convoluted narrative begins with the discovery of a wallet that has been found amid the piles of detritus where these lads spend their lives, the item belonging to one Jose Angelo (Wagner Moura – not to be confused with Rooney Mara!), whose swift elimination at the hands of the cops leads to a tale of swirling corruption at all levels that allows our teenage trio over time to save the day. The wallet is initially found by Raphael (Rickson Tevis), but it isn't long before he has roped in buddies Gardo (Eduardo Luis) and Rato (Gabriel Weinstein, no relation presumably to Harvey) to conjoin in cracking a mysterious code found within a locker whose key accompanied the wallet.

And while their sleuthing takes the plucky teens coursing through Rio rather like cunning refugees from a Brazilian version of Oliver!, a shambolic-looking Sheen hovers at the periphery offering priestly counsel with Rooney doing well by the quieter encounters that bring her volunteer teacher into contact with the local favela community. 

Indeed, watching Trash you'd get little sense of the simmering anger and resentment coursing amongst and within a sector of Brazilian society that was especially visible around the Olympics and whose grievances aren't likely to be put right by such ready-made bromides as "just have faith; faith moves mountains", as here spoken by a sweet-faced14-year-old. Daldry and Curtis might argue that they're giving equal due both to the splendour and the squalour of Brazil's second-largest city and there's an intriguing moment aurally when it's unclear whether we are hearing gunshots or fireworks – or perhaps both. 

One's better off clocking yet again Daldry's preternatural ease with young, untrained actors, a singular skill that threads its way through this stage veteran's entire film career, starting with Billy Elliot. The casting of Trash must in some ways have been as interesting as anything contained in the film itself, and all three of the adolescents represent "finds" of differing degrees, though whether any of them will go on to be their country's equivalent to Jamie Bell remains to be seen. You may find yourself raising the odd eyebrow at a thoroughly Tinseltown-style ending that finds our fresh-faced revolutionaries tossing money around like so much confetti (not bloody likely) before gambolling in the water as if they had not a care in the world. On the other hand, now that they've worked with several film world A-listers, perhaps they don't. More power to them. 

Overleaf: watch the trailer for Trash 


Their sleuthing takes the plucky teens coursing through Rio rather like cunning refugees from a Brazilian version of Oliver!


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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