TRAILER: Martin Sheen Stars in Brazilian ‘Slumdog Millionaire’

After a string of dubious late-career job choices it was only a matter of time before Martin Sheen found himself acting in a movie entitled Trash, though in this particular case the title doesn’t actually refer to the film’s artistic qualities, but rather its setting: a garbage dump and favela on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. While the film’s title is technically Lixo (the Portuguese word for “trash”), and the protagonists are a rag-tag band of preteen favela dwellers, don’t be mistaken — the film is about as Brazilian as blood pudding. With director Stephen Daldry of Billy Elliot fame at the helm, and a Hollywood-style script from the pen of Love Actually scribe Richard Curtis, Trash (Lixo) is something like a British take on feel-good Hollywood fare set amongst Brazil’s suburban slums.

Garnering comparisons to poverty-porn phenomenon Slumdog Millionaire, Trash (Lixo) fits firmly into the Brazilian kids+guns genre, though critics seem to unanimously agree that Daldry’s saccharine take on Brazil’s harsh social reality lacks a bit of the grit and street smarts of a film like Fernando Meirelles’ City of God. Based on a novel by English young adult fiction writer Andy Mulligan, Trash follows the adventures of three young friends who spend their days picking through garbage at the local dump. When they discover a wallet belonging to a local politician, the children become unlikely crusaders against political corruption (with the help of Martin Sheen, of course), thrills ensue.

On the Brazilian side, actors Rooney Mara (The Social Network) and Wagner Moura (Tropa de Elite) bring some South American star power to the production, but don’t expect anything like a pointed analysis of Brazilian political culture. Of course, there’s plenty of kids, guns, and political corruption to explore in the United States, but then it wouldn’t have that exotic factor, right? Oh, Hollywood.