Trash is a Brazilian / British co-production directed by Stephen Daldry best known for hit Billy Elliot (2000) and written by Richard Curtis famous for his romantic comedies such as Love Actually (2003). It is based on a book of the same name written by Andy Mulligan that was published in 2010.
The film follows the story of three Brazilian teenagers who live and work around a garbage dump near Rio trying to make money from picking out plastic bottles and the like. One of them comes across a wallet and pockets the cash not knowing that it contains a much bigger secret. These intrepid teenagers find themselves caught up in political corruption and on the run from the police fighting for their lives.
Before entering my review for real I must issue a warning – THIS FILM CONTAINS SUBTITLES. Yup, reading is required. It is predominantly Brazilian-Portuguese with a smattering of English although it does feel a little weird when the subtitles appear in English at the same time.
The film poster has the names of Martin Sheen and Rooney Mara on the top but the real stars are the three kids Raphael, Gardo and Rato, played by Rickson Tevez, Eduardo Luis and Gabriel Weinstein respectively. They each play distinct characters – Raphael is a young man of principle focused on doing the write thing, Gardo is the fearless quick thinker and Rato is the odd one living in the sewer with all the connections. They seem an unlikely group of companions but their personalities and skills complement each other.
The film is clearly filmed on location and I have to say I can’t believe they go swimming in that water. Interestingly we don’t get to see too much of the rich and poor divide as the story focuses on lives of the less fortunate and their daily battles with a corrupt police force. Trash shows a tight knit community living on the fringes of the law where everything has a price. The way in which the community is treated by those in power paints a damming picture of what happens when life is considered so cheaply.
The story itself follows an easily recognisable quest format as our hero’s follow a series of clues while trying to outwit an evil opponent to discover their holy grail. Trash uses the vehicle of the Brazilian garbage communities as I have dubbed them, to deliver a well worn story in an interesting way. The film didn’t quite set the world alight for me but it was a worthwhile evening at the cinema. My rating 3/5.