The rolled dice which open the film are lots cast by the silent oppressor HIV. The baby here is Post-Apartheid South Africa and Tsotsi would be its mother (this, Ellis ventures, is evidenced in dialogue, in lighting the illusion of breasts, and in the powdered milk for mothers without milk). Fathers here are dog-crippling, culprit mine-owners, Mothers are the HIV victims, maybe. So we look for a way out of a cycle of violence and blame. Set against the backdrop of “HIV/AIDs affects everyone” billboards, we see this truth played out but Tsotsi moves in the film from a victim to one who takes responsibility.
'Decency', a notion the character Boston espouses, is illustrated in those characters who are most aware of beauty where they are, the cripple who likes to feel the warmth of the sun on his skin, Miriam who delights in the colour and light of broken glass and who allows herself to be moved to expression of joy and sadness – rather than bottled into the violence of gang crime. Decency is to be found in something fragile beyond ourself, in this way love and beauty save us?
The baby is Moses in his basket. Here Moses happens into the camp of the oppressing force of gang violence and is there cared for by a certain Miriam and this helpless babe by his vulnerability is the bringer of some measure of peace. The baby of a new South Africa demands to be nurtured both by the rich and the poor, the guns must be put down, rightful ownership restored.
Something limited about the production and design might better have suited a theatre, compared perhaps to Slumdog, which takes better advantage of the fabric of sprawl, with its high contrast and hand-held sprints under and over. There is much to love in the film but I never really felt the film was necessary, essentially why did he pick up the baby?
If we adopted children would Generation Y live with more decency?