Movie Review: Trash


Life in the slums of Rio de Janero in Brazil is very different from everything we know. At the city landfill, as the trucks pull up and dump their loads of garbage, armies of mostly children clamber around mountains of filth coming down on them for salvageable goods.

One day, a 14-year-old boy finds a wallet, with some money, and a few other objects that don’t look that important. He shares the loot with two of his friends. Within a day, police inspectors start swarming the slum trying to find “a wallet.”

The boys don’t realize that they have evidence in hand to bring down some very powerful people. A dangerous cat and mouse game ensues.

Trash is about police and government corruption in Brazil. When I think of Rio, I think of white beaches, grandiose scenery, beautiful women, and tourists. This film paints a very different picture of the city. We never see the pretty side. We are surrounded only by sewer, slums, trash and the endless struggle of people just to survive, just to eat the next day.

Martin Sheen is the biggest star in this film, but his role is actually fairly minor. He plays a priest who has joined the desperate fight of the underclass against the oppression of the rich and powerful.

I have never been to Brazil myself. As I watched this eye-opening and thought-provoking film, I thought of my many Brazilian friends and I wondered what their commentary would be.

Trash is certainly a worthwhile movie to watch. It gets the thinking juices flowing.

Rating - Three Stars

[English Subtitles]

2 thoughts on “Movie Review: Trash

  1. Interesting take, Norbert. I´ve been to a few favelas, most of them in São Paulo, but some in Rio. I have a good friend who livfes – by option – at the “Favela do Cantagalo”, a slum with a population of about 5,000.

    Brazil lived a golden age between 2003-2013, under a social-democratic government. The quality of life improved by a lot, but people just can´t get outo of the favelas, either because the cost of living in Rio is too high, or just because there are strong comunity bonds in those places.

    I´m currently researching an area, in the south of the state of Sao paulo which is one of the poorest areas in the country. The HDI rose from 0,356, in 1990, to 0,705 in 2010. In areas where government is absent, it´s usual to watch parallel forms of power taking control of the political scene.

    You wouldn´t believe the political chaos we are living right now. Police and government corruption are being investigated, and as expected, people are shocked with the results…the consequence, however is that the leftist government, which allowed the investigations to actually take place, has been i tagged, by the conservative media, as the main agents of the corruption scandals.

    There´s also a huge discussion on the racial bias of the police officers, and I guess you, in America, can relate to that – as well as having poorer areas being easy targets for corruption in local levels. I haven´t seen this movie yet, but if you likjed this, I strongly reccomend watching “city of god”.

    1. Hi Marcelo – I think you’d enjoy this movie, given what you have commented here. You’ll also get more out of it, since 95% of the dialog is in Portuguese. There is some English, but not enough to understand the story by itself. I think I have seen City of God a long time ago, but I think I need to check it out again to relate it to this. Thanks for the update on Brazil from your point of view!

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