Trash full movie review - Fighting for social justice in a harsh reality
I was not expecting much of this film. You know why?
In my experience with foreign directors portraying the reality of Brazil, almost 90% of the times they get lost, they create false images, garnish the poverty, say a lot of common sense about Brazilian women, they try to show a ethnically amalgamated Brazil that has black people on top of the pyramid in the same number as white people (basically a society where racism doesn't quite exist)
This time, though, this foreign perception of Brazil's uniqueness didn't get lost in exoticism. The audience cannot possibly walk off of the movie theater thinking a black or a mulatto child have the same rights and privileges as a white kid. It seemed to me as if Andy Mulligan (novel's author) really put his efforts into researching, talking to poor people of Rio De Janeiro and understanding what they fear - what is done to them everyday.
Beware fragile viewers (won't say any spoilers): before you get to the middle of the film, there's the worst torture scene I've ever seen. It smashes your heart and makes you sick. And sadly it isn't at all exaggerated for all I know of military police's actions in Brazil. Ugh. This terrifies me.
-But we safely continue the experience of watching Trash as middle class viewers behind a movie theater screen, inside the city mall. Right.-
Stephen Daldry executed all the ideas smoothly. Cheers to that. About the screenplay, Richard Curtis adapted it fantastically. the lines weren't artificial as they are in most of the movies featuring Brazilian characters - even for Brazilian productions, actually. The camera work is truly remarkable. Felt really into the minds of the characters. (almost) felt their pain, struggle and anger.
Specifically, the acting was great. Those kids didn't let us down for a minute. This is huge for young actors and I hope those boys get all the attention they deserve for now on. Back to the broad acting: it was faultless. Wish I could say flawless, but maybe this time the script and the great number of characters with lines didn't let much space to some mind-blowing acting by Wagner Moura and Selton Mello. If you're not into Brazilian movies, you should know: these guys are close to the result of blending Bill Murray, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Al Pacino and Joaquin Phoenix altogether. (weird comparison, sorry for that)
The plot was actually a bit similar to a Dan Brown's novel, but not that intricate. It wasn't that complicated and conspiratorial to the point I'd get bored - I didn't. Several politicians and political parties in Brazil suck a lot of money from poor people and the outcome of the plot was very familiar to all of us who keep up with all this trash.
I took the morality of this movie in one of Rooney Mara's lines, when she's talking to the missionary. Won't spoiler though :D watch for yourselves.
Oh, about the common sense about Brazilian women I mentioned before: this movie does not pass in Bechdel test. Meaning no Brazilian women representation whatever the result would be. The only woman with considerable lines is Olivia (nicely impersonated by Rooney Mara) and she's foreign.
There's one more detail annoying me, I was unaware. Which is the image of a catholic missionary (Martin Sheen) in Rio's periphery. It doesn't appeal - I was not convinced. I'm a History student and this character seemed too familiar with Jesuits from colonial Era, which doesn't feel contemporaneous to us at all.
But anyway if you watch this movie there's no way you won't feel disgusted by the actions of military police (Polícia Militar - PM) in the periphery. The oppressed and poor ones are exterminated daily. PM is a fascist and terrorist machine conducted by corrupt politicians and a segregationist elite that manipulates the political tableau in favor of themselves exclusively.
Despite this reality, Trash brings a sense of hope and expectation of change that hardly occurs - right now - in this country. A year earlier, when the production started, this hope was truly there. People got out on the streets and protested against bad transportation quality, police violence.. Well, not anymore. Everyone wen't back to watching TV. To engage in politics is just too exhausting for most of the people. We've just elected the most conservative Congress since the military dictatorship 50 years ago. This is very very sad and disturbing for those kids portrayed in this movie. We're about to face 4 years (who knows if it'll actually end in 2019) of conservatism and worsening inequality.
Until then, we can think of hopeful ideas like these expressed in Trash and keep them warm, alive and militant against any form of oppression.