Review: Trash (2014)


Director: Stephen Daldry | 114 minutes | adventure, crime, drama, thriller | Actors: Rickson Tevez, Gabriel Weinstein, Eduardo Luis, Rooney Mara, Martin Sheen, Wagner Moura, Christiane Amanpour, Selton Mello, André Ramiro, Jesuíta Barbosa, Nelson Xavier, Daniel Zettel, José Dumont, Maria Eduarda, Stepan Nercessian, Gisele Fróes

In the summer of 2014, the world became better acquainted with Brazil during the World Cup. The spotlight was briefly turned on this country and a whole lot of filth associated with the corrupted government came to light. Filth is also what ‘Trash’ shows. Three boys spend their days sorting waste in a rubbish dump in Rio de Janeiro. When they find a wallet among the waste, they get into deep trouble. A sadistic police commissioner opens a manhunt for the boys.

The moralistic undertone makes ‘Trash’ a guaranteed crowd puller. Thanks to the ethical superiority of the Western characters, the film provides an accessible insight into the problems of a third world country. Unfortunately, that does not benefit the quality of the film. Due to the many predictable twists and turns, the plot often provokes the hair. The dialogues are childish and very unnatural and the clue is an insult to the viewers’ estimated intelligence.

Like many Western films set in developing countries, ‘Trash’ has a pedantic character and Brazil is presented as little more than a corrupt and poor breeding ground for crime. Director Daldry stated in an interview that he wanted to end the film with a positive undertone, because, according to him, too many social dramas go wrong. However, this seems to be the only cliché that Daldry has managed to avoid, for the rest the film is overflowing with it.

Unfortunately, the danger is that it becomes easy to overlook the beautiful elements of the film, which are indeed present. Think of the beautiful soundtrack and also the young acting talent. Just like in Daldry’s ‘Billy Elliott’, the best thing about this film is the energy the director gets from its young stars. Tevez, Luis and Weinstein play their roles with an uninhibited and sincere boyishness that gives the film a playful and up-tempo character.

The Brazilians are assisted by Martin Sheen, who plays a priest, and Rooney Mara, an aid worker. They both work at the dump and are presented as Western benefactors who act as ‘saviors’ of the Brazilian favela residents. However, both actors portray colorless and patronizing characters whose predictable storyline only slows down the film. Sheen and Mara add very little to the film, but it is of course the question whether director Daldry would have managed to raise the same amount of funds without this Western undertone.

It remains difficult to understand how a director like Daldry, who has such masterpieces under his name (Billy Elliott! The Hours! The Reader!), Managed to deliver a one-sided and predictable film like this. It is all too easy to achieve a high box office by combining shabby situations with a cheerful soundtrack and colorful images, humorous characters and a never back down morality. Unfortunately, we have seen that just a little too often pass the screen.

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