A Trio of Talented Youngsters Emerge from Daldry's 'Trash'

By Weissberg, Jay | Variety, October 14, 2014 | Go to article overview

A Trio of Talented Youngsters Emerge from Daldry's 'Trash'


Weissberg, Jay, Variety


A Trio of Talented Youngsters Emerge From Daldry's 'Trash'

Trash

Director: Stephen Daldry

Starring: Selton Mello, Wagner Moura, Martin Sheen, Rooney Mara

Cleanly scripted in pure Hollywood fashion by Richard Curtis (with Felipe Braga translating it into Portuguese), Stephen Daldry's "Trash" won't be confused for a real Brazilian production: Its storyline, staging and inevitably positive spin unmistakably mark it as offshore, notwithstanding the participation of Fernando Meirelles' 02 Filmes. A South American answer of sorts to "Slumdog Millionaire," the pic features a trio of charismatic kids living next to a Rio garbage dump who stumble upon evidence certain to bring down a corrupt politico. Audience-friendly to a fault, "Trash" should be a modest money earner for Universal Inti., which will no doubt pitch it along "Slumdog" lines.

Andy Mulligan's source novel was geared toward adolescents, but the film feels more like adult fare simply because young teens aren't exactly known for their attraction to subtitles. English makes up a small percentage of the dialogue, mostly coming from Martin Sheen and Rooney Mara, the necessary U.S. stars, one guesses, to ensure a decent budget and increase chances for worldwide success. Brazilian headliners Selton Mello and Wagner Moura are safe guarantors of South American interest, and the anticorruption lines at the end, aimed at Brazilian viewers, testify to the producers' desire to work all angles. A co-director credit for acting coach Christian Duurvoort no doubt signals his heavy involvement in guiding local actors in their own language.

"Trash" works in large part thanks to the infectious energy and sheer pleasure in comradeship exuded by the three young teen boys, all around 14 years old. The kids live in a lakeside favela, spending their days sorting trash at the municipal dump next door. Superb editing by Elliot Graham economically yet clearly crams in all the needed information in the first 10 minutes or so as characters are introduced.

White-collar Jose Angelo (Moura) is captured during a police raid just after tossing a wallet onto a passing garbage truck. While Jose is tortured and killed by the cops in one part of town, Raphael (Rickson Tevis) finds the billfold in his local trash heap, and shares the cash with friend Gardo (Eduardo Luis). When cops come sniffing around, offering a reward for the return of the wallet, Raphael gets suspicious and starts wondering about a key he found inside. The boys confide in sewer-dwelling peer Rato (Gabriel Weinstein), who recognizes it as belonging to a set of lockers downtown.

There, they find a piece of paper with some code, and head back to the favela and social-activist Father Julliard (Sheen), an American whose computer is their window to the world. …

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