Set in Brazil, three kids who make a discovery in a garbage dump soon find themselves running from the cops and trying to right a terrible wrong.
‘Trash’ is an entertaining film about three Brazilian boys living in the slums of Rio De Janeiro, who end up on an adventure of sorts when they discover a wallet amidst the vast rubbish dumps near where they live. The wallet contains money, a key and several pieces of valuable information, and it belonged to a man who was chased down by corrupt policeman acting at the behest of an ambitious politician. It’s a matter of circumstance that the wallet ends up in the hands of Raphael (Rickson Teves), Gardo (Eduardo Luis) and Rato (Gabriel Weinstein), but their decision not to hand the wallet in at the first available opportunity sets off a chain reaction that fuels the narrative of the film.
Directed by Stephen Daldry from a script written by Richard Curtis, the film does have the feel of an outsider looking in but the winning performances from the trio of youngsters lend a sense of realism to proceedings. These young boys have such believable chemistry that it’s hard to believe they weren’t friends beforehand, and the charming nature of the performances really makes you root for the characters. As we’ve come to expect with a Richard Curtis script, the film is sentimental almost to a fault, but there is a real earnestness at play in the filmmaking which helps to overcome this.
There are a couple of aspects which hold the film back slightly, firstly in the preposterous script which seems to get more and more implausible as the film goes on. At its heart, the film is an adventure story and as a viewer, you expect to suspend a certain level of disbelief, but the problem with ‘Trash’ is that I don’t think Daldry or Curtis know whether they want to make a piece of pure escapism or a tough statement about poverty and corruption. The performances help the viewer to look past the issues with the plotting, but there’s an argument to be made that the film could have been every bit as enjoyable or as successful with a less complicated mystery at its heart.
The second issue centres on the use of English speaking actors to fill a couple of key supporting roles, which is perhaps beyond the filmmakers control. Rooney Mara and Martin Sheen are both fine performers, and they are solid in their roles as an NGO worker and a local priest, but I see no reason why these roles couldn’t have been played by local actors. In a film set in Brazil, focusing on local issues, the use of local actors and the Portuguese language throughout would have helped things to feel more natural. This was likely a condition of getting funding to make the film, which is an unfortunate symptom of the filmmaking system.
Overall, I liked a lot about ‘Trash’, and like many films set in Brazil, the beauty of the country and its people comes through even when we’re focusing on some of the poorer parts of the country. Despite its outlandish plot, the film is always entertaining and the good performances and good music make this an enjoyable piece of cinema.
Directed By: Stephen Daldry
Starring: Rickson Tevez, Eduardo Luis, Gabriel Weinstein, Martin Sheen, Rooney Mara, Wagner Moura and Selton Mello