Gritty film serves as parable


By Phil Boatwright
The Movie Reporter

Stars:  Presley Chweneyagae, Kenneth Nkosi, Terry Pheto
Director: Gavin Hood
Opens: March 24
Rating: R

Based on the book by acclaimed author and playwright Athol Fugard, Tsotsi (meaning “thug” in the South African street language Tsotsi Taal) traces six days in the life of a young gang leader who steals a woman’s car – unaware, in his panic, that her baby is in the back seat. A gritty contemporary portrait of ghetto life set amidst the sprawling Johannesburg townships, this affecting story is ultimately a redemptive tale of hope and the triumph of love over rage.

I almost walked out of this violent film filledw with the f-word. Suddenly I realized this film was a parable, a story about the seeking and finding of redemption. As for Jesus, His gospel is definitely preached, sans preaching. Though this young thug is full of rage and insecurity, he is strangely moved by this infant. And the longer he is around the baby, the more he opens his heart. He even comes to an awareness of the need for forgiveness and salvation.

This film won’t be for everybody. It is justly rated R for its violent imagery and mood, plus around 30 harsh curse words. While some won’t be moved by the film’s message due to the objectionables, there are those who will relate to the portrait of harsh realities and see past the brutality. Perhaps there will be non-churchgoers touched and given hope that there is something more than the limited world they are in and that it is up to them to find it. As for those who don’t have to struggle with poverty, ignorance and daily danger, well, maybe it will remind them to be compassionate and patient. It helped me in that area.

Stars: Emma Roberts, Joanna JoJo Levesque, Sara Paxton, Jake McDorman
Director: Elizabeth Allen
Rating: PG

Following a violent storm, a beautiful and sassy mermaid named Aquamarine washes ashore and into the lives of two preteen girls. Rebelling against her domineering father who doesn’t believe in love, Aquamarine has come ashore to find someone with whom she can share that emotion.

Naturally, her eyes fall upon the first hunky lifeguard she sees, much to the chagrin of her new young friends, who also secretly have a crush on the lifeguard. But they can’t resist helping her snag him, because, as we all know, mermaids are magical, and she has promised them a wish fulfilled if they help her win the hunk’s heart.

Aquamarine is a parable whose message concerns friendship and the discovery of the meaning of love. Put that together with adolescent insecurities and surprisingly funny dialogue and delivery, and you have an engaging film for teens and a guilty pleasure for us older folk.