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By Daniel Lammin
26th April 2015

After establishing himself with elegant and sentimental classics like 'Billy Elliot' (2000) and 'The Hours' (2002), Oscar-nominated director Stephen Daldry has charted off into unexpected territory. His latest film 'Trash', set in the slums of Brazil, finds the director and his team throwing away elegance for furious energy and thrills. But does the film survive this change of pace and revitalise a director who has never quite lived up to his promise?

Three young boys living in a slum community based around a dump: Raphael (Rickson Tevez), Gardo (Eduardo Luis) and Rato (Gabriel Weinstein) find a wallet hidden among the trash, filled with cryptic items. Nothing seems unusual, until the corrupt police force begin to search through the dump for the wallet, manipulating and terrorising the community. Pulling in unsuspecting assistance from their carers Father Juilliard (Martin Sheen) and teacher Olivia (Rooney Mara), the boys begin to piece together a puzzle of conspiracy and corruption, and one that puts themselves and everyone around them in danger.


The setting of a slum in a foreign country has prompted a lot of people dubbing this a Brazilian 'Slumdog Millionaire', and while the political nature of the film doesn't fit that comparison, it's clear Daldry and his team have taken a leaf out of Danny Boyle's book. Elliot Graham's snappy editing and Antonio Pinto's poppy score give the film an undeniably modern texture. Adriano Goldman shoots the film with handheld immediacy, which makes 'Trash' a wonderfully energetic film. The level of violence makes this an inappropriate film for children, but the film still has that "boys own adventure" more akin to children's films. This makes of an unexpected pleasure to watch for an adult audience. Daldry is clearly in new territory here, far from the composed melancholy of 'The Hours', but he attacks this new challenge with aplomb. You get the sense Daldry has found an energy here and is enjoying the chance to play with a different cinematic language.

Where the film falls down though is its screenplay. Adapted from Andy Mulligan's book by acclaimed screenwriter Richard Curtis, it gets the structure and narrative right, but with so much story to cover, it ends up as nothing but exposition. There's very little space to get to know any of the characters, so that deeper detail is up to Daldry and his cast. This isn't a massive misstep, but it just make the film a tad exhausting without moments of stillness. Where is does set itself apart is in its decision to be almost entirely in Portuguese with subtitles, with just adds to the wonderful realism and texture of the film. It's a brave decision and one that definitely pays off.

Where the magic really comes in 'Trash' is from its three beautiful leads.

Where the magic really comes in 'Trash' is from its three beautiful leads. Tevez, Luis and Weinstein blast the film with youthful energy, always on point but never not playing as much as they want. They're also a fearless trio, Tevez in particular being but through the wringer with his physical work. This helps overcome the clumsiness of the dialogue, which the adult performers have a touch more difficulty overcoming. Mara and Sheen are such great actors that they just get away with it, especially Sheen who does earnest better than most, but Selton Mello as corrupt and vicious cop Frederico never gets past the stereotype of his character, making him a dangerous yet empty villain.

After pumping through thrilling and tense chase sequences across the slums and cities of Brazil, 'Trash' does fall a little flat at the last hurdle, succumbing to the danger of a convenient and clean ending, the kind of thing you would expect for a kids film. It's a tad disappointing, but the journey to get there is so much fun that it doesn't sting too bad. Stephen Daldry has tried something out of his comfort zone with 'Trash' and it pays off beautifully. This is a great little film, not one that stays in your mind for long but a damn good time in the process, and showcases the trials and joy of the most unexpected and fascinating of locations. This is a film bubbling with energy and joy.

RELEASE DATE: 30/04/2015
RUN TIME: 1h 54m
CAST: Martin Sheen
Rooney Mara
Wagner Moura
Selton Mello
DIRECTOR: Stephen Daldry
WRITER: Richard Curtis
Eric Fellner
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