When All That Glitters Is Soul
There was an excellent documentary out a few years ago about a successful Brazilian artist called Vik Muniz. Called ‘Waste Land’ (2010) and creating works of art from rubbish, it brought us and the participants (local trash pickers) of the film on a journey of self discovery, awareness and enlightening the world around us, even though it was entirely based in the slums and largest rubbish landfill in the world just outside Rio de Janeiro.
Conditioned as some of use are to judge and look down on such folk, you’d have to be blind (or a politician) not to see that the warmth of the individuals was immense and the (non-religious) spiritually uplifting voyage they went on in their awakening to art and seeing everything in a glistening new way, forever.
I’m not sure if Stephen Daldrey, he of Billy Elliot fame, had seen this documentary, but the same warmth and spirit radiates from his new movie ‘Trash’ (2014) also about trash pickers in Rio. And with the ever so slight talents of none other than Richard Curtis (Love Actually, and About Time) doing the screenplay, there’s every chance to make a silk purse out of a sows ear, and whatever else was thrown into the tip. And succeed they do.
Opening with the (notorious) Brazilian Police chasing down a man (Wagner Moura from the excellent Elite Squad series) having just buried his daughter, and before being grappled to the ground, throws a wallet off a balcony into a passing refuge truck on it way to the land fill. As is not the norm, the wealth immediately trickles directly down to the poor kids making a living off the dump, when they discover said wallet.
There’s a few Brazilian Reals (local currency) in the wallet which they instantly share amongst each other, and celebrate by buying a chicken for dinner. There’s also a key in the wallet, and this is where the actual trouble starts.
With the help of an outcast kid (even in slums folk have prejudices) they begin a very dangerous quest to find the meaning behind the key. It’s clear that it holds a huge secret as a large Police force has arrived at the fill to question everyone on it’s whereabouts. But everyone knows the cops and their paymasters are dirtier than the rubbish they are currently searching.
On their quest we see just how much corruption has permeated the city, yet despite this there is a great deal of life, celebration and vitality growing like wild flowers everywhere. But this corruption is so accepted and finite that when one of the kids is captured by the Police, everyone accepts that he is now dead. As in the original fairy tales of yesteryear, the darkest of dark walks beside the Brazilian Sun. But hope is always there, it always walks parallel to the dark.
The main success of the movie is the three kids themselves. They are an absolute revelation, added to the fact that they had never acted before nor indeed had any actual education to speak of, what they present is just stunning, radiating humanity from their young faces. They are the genuine heart and soul of the movie. There’s support from a multitude of excellent Brazilian actors and to no doubt to get bums on seats Martin Sheen and Rooney Mara are on board. It’s great to see them giving support to such excellent projects, but I was loving the local talent so much, I may have preferred locals again in their roles.
The story runs with a pure clarity of the (ever increasing) division of monetary wealth/barren soul cupboard and the no coin/rich eyes and brimming heart of integrity, showing to an extent that paper money is just another trash, and true value will only be found in the simplest of moments.
Trash is out now