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Tsotsi Review Critics


Dave White Profile

It's movie-sweet … Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    What a simple and yet profound story this is.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    More calculated than a Starbucks sampler CD, the picture could win the up-from-hardship award.

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Presley Chweneyagae's Tsotsi makes his presence deeply felt. In a world of heedless children wielding guns, his tale is a heartening one.

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Though the story teeters on easy sentimentality, it doesn't succumb. Though unabashedly emotional, it isn't maudlin. Tsotsi's story feels believable. It is made all the more engaging by a wonderful soundtrack of African Kwaito music.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Ray Bennett

    Brutal but believable, the film in some ways harks back to early Hollywood, when Jimmy Cagney or Richard Widmark played callow villains out of their depth in everyday life.

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  • See all Tsotsi reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Affecting tale of a street hoodlum's evolution.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie shows kids and young people living on the streets and in poverty in South Africa, with scenes showing harsh violence (stabbing, shooting, beating), drinking and drug use, the accidental kidnapping of a baby during a carjacking, posters warning against AIDS, and the parents' subsequent distress. The focus is on a young hoodlum, whose initial inability to cope with the infant's needs leads to terrible mistakes (the baby is covered with ants and filth, cries, needs food). He holds a gun on a young woman to force her to breastfeed the baby; he beats one friend and regrets it; he kills another in order to stop more violence.

  • Families can talk about Tsotsi's transformation, from tough-fronting street gangster to vulnerable, generous young man. How does the movie show how he became so callous, with flashbacks to his mother's illness and death, his father's abuse, and Tsotsi's subsequent lack of a home and stability? How do you come to understand the reasons for his cruelty, even as you hope he changes his attitude? How does the baby's helplessness affect Tsotsi's necessary focus on his own survival, before all else? How does the young mother help him to change his mind-set?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Characters are thieves and brutes by socialization; they lie, steal, and commit violence; one is redeemed when he learns to give up his needs for a baby's.

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: A disturbingly slow and quiet assault with an ice pick; brutal beating that leaves victim's face a bloody pulp; carjacking that leaves woman driver beaten and horrified.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Woman nurses a child with her breast partially exposed.

  • language false5

    Language: Profanity in subtitles (f-word included).

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Characters drink (some drunken behavior by 18- and 19-year-olds), smoke cigarettes, and take drugs.