Director: Taika Waititi
Based on the book: ‘Wild Pork and Watercress’, written by Barry Crump
Cast: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rhys Darby, Rima Te Wiata, Rachel House, Oscar Kightley, Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne, Troy Kingi, Cohen Holloway, Stan Walker, Mike Minogue, Hamish Parkinson, Lloyd Scott.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople is tongue-in-cheek and heartfelt where the characters are able to take a laugh at themselves ‘cause it’s all heart bro.
There are some familiar faces here – a solid performance from Sam Neill (Jurassic Park (1993, 2001), Peaky Blinders (since 2013), The Piano (1993)) as the reluctant crusty ‘uncle’, Hec Faulkner; Rachel House (Whale Rider (2002); Boy (2010)) as Paula, the overzealous welfare worker and Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords (2007-2009); What We Do in the Shadows (2014)) as the ‘bushman’, Psycho Sam.
But the standout for me was Julian Dennison (Paper Plans (2014)) all of 13 years old, as Ricky Baker. This kid has talent, so-much-so, I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing the wanna-be-gangsta, Ricky.
I love hot water bottles (particularly now it’s getting to winter here), I love dogs, love the bush and aunties with cats on their jumpers. And I love how this movie was about a foster kid trying to find his way and how an old crusty character can warm to a kid who’s his own person just like him.
There’s a poetry in the camera work (cinematographer, Lachlan Milne) – this is beautiful scenery of green bushland taken from up high, then down to running waterfalls, lakes mirroring an orange sky to the mud and rain of the bush; locations including Piha, Karekare, Bethells Beach, Horopito and the Kaimanawa Plains.
A lot of thought was put into the scenes, the director Taika Waititi (Boy, Eagle vs Shark, What We Do in the Shadows) waving his magic touch with the shadows of leaves on the car windscreen; the silhouette of fence posts in the dusk, balanced with the authentic flavour of performance, without too much polish and keeping a tight rein on the editing (Luke Haigh).
A film where the characters felt real, if not caricature in nature: you’re bound to meet one in the bush or down the street in New Zealand. And that’s the point of difference with this film: a New Zealander flavour of the bush with cold and beauty combined with character.
Look, some of the humour was a bit cheap, more for the kids or young at heart. But this was just a few jokes – mostly I was smiling with a sometimes tear in the eye.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople makes you want to love people for who they are, not who they’re supposed to be.
Sometimes a stray gets found and given a home. Sometimes the ones who are lost and unloved can be found, only to run away in the bush and get lost and then become a gangsta running from the cops, yo.
What can I say, one of my favourite Leonard Cohen songs (The Partisan) was part of the soundtrack, so yes I admit this film got under the skin.
One of those funny ones that make you cry a bit because it’s also sweet.
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