Martin Clunes plays a curator from an English museum who is being asked to return a mystical Maori relic to New Zealand. All sorts of cultural misunderstanding abound as well as an unexpected romantic attraction.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
John Leigh ...
Paki Cherrington ...
Uncle Hohepa (as Te Paki Cherrington)
Nicola Kawana ...
Gordon Toi ...
Ben Kelly ...
Max
...
Dominic Ona-Ariki ...
Natalija Butler ...
Nikita Butler ...
Julie Crean ...
Calvin Tuteao ...
Zac
Elizabeth McRae ...
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Martin Clunes plays a curator from an English museum who is being asked to return a mystical Maori relic to New Zealand. All sorts of cultural misunderstanding abound as well as an unexpected romantic attraction.

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Comedy

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26 August 2007 (UK)  »

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£2,000,000 (estimated)
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1.78 : 1
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Not challenging, nor interesting nor exciting just smugly bland
14 October 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Ian Bennett works with the British Museum but is finding his passion for the past is being overtaken by the marketing savvy of his younger colleagues. When a Maori carved head is put forward for exhibition it comes to the attention of a small community in the northern part of the country. Led by Zac, they make a claim to repatriate the mask and so Ian is sent over to help sort it all out but under no circumstances let their claim be valid. Ian gets there and is immediately treated with suspicion and dislike – but can both Ian and the community find more than they first assume? Well, it's Sunday evening in the UK and its an "ITV drama premier" staring Martin Clunes. Suffice to say I did not have huge expectations for this one and the start did suggest that it would do just what I expected it to do. See now, Ian is a very English man who is repressed in his job and even his engagement is being fully organised for him by his fiancé (who describes herself as an "events manager" more than a bride-to-be). When he is sent to New Zealand to meet with some good natured yet simple people about some artefact, you can just see the "journey of self-discovery thanks to simpler life with natives" storyline being laid out in front of you for miles. And indeed so it is with this eminently predictable and simplistic drama that oozes "Sunday night" from every pore.

It is not that it is lazy so much as smug. To me it knew the basics buttons it had to push and it does it with an air or knowing people will watch it as long as it delivers these; so it goes about it with an air of not really caring that much and not attempting to find anything within the material to challenge or really engage. The script is very middle of the road and Johnson's direction matches this as he cannot help but just lap up the "beauty" of New Zealand and the people while playing it all out with a tinkly score that just irritated me. Clunes is really well cast since he does what is asked of him well. Of course, if he'd had a script that sought to do more than the basics he could have been in trouble, but there was never any danger of that here. Kawana is OK but struggles to have any chemistry with Clunes while the rest of the ethnic cast fit in well enough with characters that skate around stereotypes while also being ones.

Overall then this is an obvious affair but to target audience I'm sure it will be the warm, life-affirming entertainment that it is meant as. To my more angry, bitter soul though, it just came off as smugly bland stuff that just pitched a lazy ball to an audience looking to numb themselves to the end of the weekend with nothing challenging, interesting or exciting – and this film fits that bill perfectly.


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