The cover of TRASH features three boys, but the actors names aren’t predominantly featured at the top. That space is reserved for Martin Sheen and Rooney Mara. Sheen is a name that audiences will recognize and Mara is a name that I’m sure the general populous has on the tip of their tongue. The misleading nature of the cover matches the uneven tempo and theme throughout TRASH. I don’t say that as an overwhelming negative, but I say it as a negative that prevents TRASH from being a stellar movie. Stephen Daldry, who has directed critically acclaimed movies like THE HOURS and BILLY ELLIOT, doesn’t quite hit the mark in TRASH.
Raphael (Tevez), Gardo (Luis) and Rato (Weinstein) are three boys who spend their days sifting through garbage. They’re so impoverished that their only source of income is finding anything that’s remotely salvageable, and using it for themselves, eating it, or selling to someone with money. It’s a sad state of affairs, but they’re young enough to still find it adventurous and fun to sift through a country’s worth of garbage. But as we watch TRASH, our three heroes slowly seem to realize the unfortunate social, economic situation they’re living in.
While doing what they normally do, the three of them really hit the jackpot, a wallet with money and a key. The money, while obviously the prized possession amongst the impoverished, isn’t important, but the mysterious key the boys find is what unlocks the conflict in TRASH. One of them knows that the key is a path towards riches, but the journey is riddled with ruthless criminals, crooked cops, and murdered politicians. It’s like if the GOONIES were constantly under the threat of capture, torture, and gruesome death.
Sheen and Mara show up as a Pastor and English teacher that end up helping our pint-sized heroes along the way. If these two weren’t listed on the cover of the blu-ray, their roles wouldn’t have felt so shoehorned in because the main stars of this movie are our three young actors. While Sheen and Mara provide some dramatic heft to the story, the three boys add delightful youth and blissful innocence to the story riddled with bleak violence. I feel like Sheen’s mere presence takes away from some of the scenes.
The light-hearted aspect of the tale is dampened by all the violence and four letters swear words. A little bit of trimming could actually turn TRASH into a PG-13 movie, but it feels like it wants to earn a hard ‘R’, which doesn’t really make a lot of sense. The violence beats a lot of the potential morality out of our story and it cheapens the emotions of the three boys. Inevitably they don’t seem to be acting on some kind of moral obligation, but more or less to feel like their Indiana Jones.
What saves TRASH from winding up amongst the trash heap is an uplifting finale, which depending on how you feel, is just the right amount of sentimentality overly sweet. For me, after witnessing a highly improbable scenario, it’s easy to forgive a highly improbable ending. It’s hard to believe that three kids crossing paths with dangerous men in the slums of the Third World, would make it out alive, but we’re glad they did, and maybe just a little bit of us feel inspired.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2:39:1) The picture is wonderfully clear and some of the grimy aspects, whether it be blood or mountains of discarded leftovers, come through crystal clear.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) It’s like an action movie, the talking is soft and pounding soundtrack rattles the walls.