Out in New Zealand Cinemas on 31 March 2016
Two weeks ago I had a wee sneak preview of the new movie by Taika Waititi. Unless you have turned into a Zombie from the Karori Zombie Society over the last 4 years you will know that Taika is the genius behind such Kiwi movies as 'Boy' and 'What we do in the shadows'.
When I was tipped about the film and told its name, I didn't know it was a Taika film immediately. However, it all came together just the day before. From that point, of course I had high expectations for the film to live up to. After all, 'Boy' was one of New Zealand's most successful films ever and 'What we do in the shadows' was the premiere NZ-vampire-comedy of all time, given a whopping 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, a top movie rating website.
I have no doubt in announcing that 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople' was my favourite Taika Waititi movie, favourite New Zealand made movie and likely my favourite movie of the year so far, if not on my top movies of all time. I am completely OBSESSED.
"I am completely OBSESSED."
This is actually an amazing film and I loved it so, so much. Also - I am going to call it early. Sam Neil SERIOUSLY NEEDS TO BE NOMINATED FOR BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR FOR THIS FILM. If this comes true I want to have made the call early before anyone else can.
I say this for a few reasons. 1) Sam hasn't had a meaty role to get into for a while now; and 2) He is just brilliant as the bushman foster parent, Uncle Hec, of the wild child Ricky Baker. His role of Uncle Hec is done to masterful perfection.
Based on the brilliant story by Barry Crump, 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople' starts out with the notorious Ricky Baker (played to perfection by the brilliant young Julian Dennison) arriving at a small rural home in the middle-of-nowhere-New-Zealand, in the hands of social services and NZ police. He is to be looked after by his new foster parents - Aunty Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and Uncle Hec (Sam Neil). Aunty Bella, eccentric and well meaning, takes an immediate liking to Ricky. Ricky however, isn't so sure about this new rural lifestyle of which he is at the mercy.
"Waititi plays on the trope of the noble savage with clever wit"
While I don't want to spoil the magic of this movie - and there is much of it - Ricky's world begins to change, and he finds himself having to forge new friendships with a character that is rough as guts but has a heart of gold. Waititi plays on the trope of the noble savage with clever wit and on New Zealand cliches. Hec (the outdoor white man) and Ricky (a young kid in foster care) teach one another a way to trust in their brave new world. Hec is a man of purity through his knowledge of nature, but is emotionally flawed. He needs Ricky, an urban Maori boy, to bring warmth, courage and trust to the surface.
This is a story of a man opening up and trusting a boy and a boy becoming a man. Glittering performances are abound, from a wonderful cast of Kiwi performers - from Oscar Knightley as the bumbling policeman, to social service (played impeccably by Paula House). This film has everything you ever wanted in a New Zealand film and not only helps us laugh at the characters, but also ourselves. While it touches on the dark side from time to time (particularly in a revealing scene where Ricky speaks candidly with Uncle Hec about what happened to his friend from the youth institution that they both came from), Waititi's latest venture is more structured than 'Shadows', but lighter, quicker, and more uplifting than 'Boy'.
"This is a story of a man opening up and trusting a boy and a boy becoming a man"
I think (in my humble opinion as a Wellington blogger) that this is Waititi's best movie to date. It also reminded me a little of the brilliant 'Moonrise Kingdom' by Wes Anderson (also of 'The Royal Tenenbaums'). Certain shots, fantasy sequences, and particularly the music all hint at a almost storybook folklore tale.
Find out more about the film and get updates here in the Facebook page. Don't forget to 'like' it. Thank you Team Taika! Thank you Anna Dean for suggesting me for the review.