Why Tsotsi fails to amuse me?
Because he does not belong specifically to South Africa, that’s why.
Following his journey of a life-changing experience happens to be set against the backdrop of a slum area in South Africa, we begin to wonder, if the backdrop is changed to anywhere else, particularly Bronx, USA, will the story remain the same?
In this case the answer is an unfortunate yes.
Not that it will prevent tears from dropping when we see some tender scenes between Tsotsi, his stolen baby and his breast-feeding mother, but in the era of distinctive qualities of being a film made overseas (read: outside Hollywood or USA), the film lacks of any quality that makes it different from any other films made within the system of Hollywood.
As such, the film suffers greatly from the usual formula often seen in any other films, that redemption comes to end, and our hopeless anti-hero has to surrender to the system he cannot challenge. The formulaic storyline has been told many times, be them in Hollywood or not, and Tsotsi has to unfairly be put in the shadows of those similar works.
If anything else is considered a redemptive quality, it is the performance of the leading actor, Presley Chweneyagae, who carries the role, surprisingly, with often static expression that most of the time works well to convey the intended aching response we ought to have.
After all, there’s gotta be a reason why he carries the title role.