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Tsotsi (2005)—South AfricanTsotsi (2005)—South African

           The Soweto gang leader Tsotsi (literally, "thug") appears to be a hoodlum without a conscience. The film begins with his gang's murder of a subway rider, a brutal beating of his colleague who dared to raise issues of morality, and then a car-jacking. Tsotsi crashes the new car and finds a newborn baby boy in the back seat. This film won an Oscar for best foreign film, but just at this early point in the film I believe the plot becomes entirely predictable. We know that the little baby will humanize Tsotsi (he does), and that the little guy will be returned safely to his parents (he is). So, the film really hinges on Tsotsi's character development and road to redemption. I also thought the film ended somewhat ambiguously, as perhaps it should have, with Tsotsi's arrest. Director Gavin Hood clearly intends not only to tell a personal story but also to comment on the horrendous socio-economic inequalities in the post-apartheid South African townships that contributed to Tsotsi's life as a criminal. In Zulu, Xhosa and Afrikaans with English subtitles.

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