It's impossible to consider What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted? without remembering, its predecessor Once Were Warriors.
I remember two separate women weeping, slumped in their cinema seats for minutes, after the conclusion of the harrowing Once Were Warriors; a movie that depicted the terror of domestic violence.
I remember some Maori friends telling me that on the contrary, they laughed during Warriors because the film was so much like home in New Zealand. That's a sobering revelation. I suppose that laughter can sometimes be a healing force.
Recently the writer of both of these films, Alan Duff, explained on ABC radio that he wasn't a pariah with the Maori community in New Zealand as had been claimed by some in the media. He explained that anyway if there had been Maoris after him, he'd "be dead meat by now." A statement that perhaps accentuates the veracity of the source material.
Once Were Warriors was literally a stunning film and was centered about Beth, Jake's wife (Rena Owen) as she tries to deal with her violent husband. What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted? moves a few years on.
Beth has left Jake and one of their sons Nig has become a member of an Auckland gang. He dies in a fight and his brother Sonny (Clint Ereura) teams up with Nig's former girlfriend Tania (Nancy Brunning) to get revenge.
Jake meanwhile is tying to come to terms with his violence. He's lost his daughter and one of his sons and has become estranged from his wife and remaining son. Something seems to be wrong but Jake has trouble controlling his temper.
Temuera Morrison was awesome as Jake in Warriors and again he's fascinating in What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted?.
However What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted? isn't in the same class as Warriors. It's much better than the average gang, action movie but has far too much shallowness, too many stolid, severe looks, and far too little real involvement with the characters to rate in the same class as the first in the series.
There are some high (low) points in What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted? though. Jake breaks loose at one stage in his girlfriend's house. It's a portrayal of senseless, out of control, drunken violence that is memorable and unfortunately common in real life.
And then there's Tania when she begins singing in a record store; a scene that somehow moves beyond the ridiculous firmly into the charming. And Jake whacking those bikies heads in with spanners is pretty strong.
Temuera Morrison does hurtle us strongly into Jake's world. I hope there haven't been too many Jakes in your neighborhood.
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