Stephen Daldry and Richard Curtis join forces to produce a visceral, dynamic film about the ghetto dwellers of Rio de Janeiro.



If Stephen Daldry’s Trash does not become as universally popular as Slumdog Millionaire, blame the title. Comparisons to Andy Warhol’s 1970 film of the same name aside, ‘Trash’ is hardly a crowd-grabbing moniker. Even fans of the alternative rock band Garbage might take exception. But ‘Trash’ is the name of Andy Mulligan’s 2010 novel on which this visceral, dynamic film is based and trash is how the poorer inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro are treated by those in authority. More literally, it is what provides the livelihood for thousands of Brazilians who rummage through stinking mountains of refuse (as so piquantly explored in Lucy Walker’s Oscar-nominated documentary Waste Land).


Here, two fourteen-year-old ghetto dwellers – Raphael and Gardo – spend their days scouring through rubbish in the hope of discovering something worthwhile, anything that might be re-sold for a handful of cash. Then Raphael comes across a wallet. Not only is it full of paper money but something that Raphael suspects might be altogether more valuable. Reluctantly at first, Gardo goes along with Raphael’s decision to hold the wallet back from the police, the latter descending on the dump like so many agitated killer ants. Raphael and Gardo don’t know what they’re doing – or even why they’re doing it – but they know that what they’re doing is the right thing…


If Richard Curtis’s name as scriptwriter might give some respective viewers pause, he is a skilful manipulator and has rustled up a highly kinetic, cinematic tale in which the numerous narrative twists come together so fast that one completely forgets the writer’s more self-indulgent forays as a filmmaker. More significantly it is Stephen Daldry who holds the directorial reins. Daldry’s last four films – including The Hours and The Reader – were all nominated for best director and/or best picture Oscars. Daldry also has a remarkable track record for eliciting peerless performances from children, notably Jamie Bell as the eponymous Billy Elliot and Thomas Horn in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Here, his winning stroke is in the casting of Rickson Teves and Eduardo Luis, both of whom subdue any Curtis-like attempts at cuteness and who embody their downtrodden victims with both credibility and vitality. Top marks, too, to the cinematography of Adriano Goldman, who gives the film a visual splendour above and beyond the call of its subject matter. There’s not even a tourist-winking shot of Christ the Redeemer, a visual cliché that most directors just could not have resisted.


Cast: Martin Sheen, Rooney Mara, Wagner Moura, Selton Mello, Rickson Tevez, Eduardo Luis, Gabriel Weinstein.

Dir Stephen Daldry, Pro Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Kris Thykier, Screenplay Richard Curtis, Ph Adriano Goldman, Pro Des Tulé Peak, Ed Elliot Graham, Music Antônio Pinto, Costumes Bia Salgado.

Working Title Films/O2 Filmes/PeaPie Films-Universal Pictures.
113 mins. UK/Brazil/Germany. 2014. Rel: 30 January 2015. Cert. 15.