A contemporary story of love, rejection and triumph as a young Maori girl fights to fulfill a destiny her grandfather refuses to recognize.A contemporary story of love, rejection and triumph as a young Maori girl fights to fulfill a destiny her grandfather refuses to recognize.A contemporary story of love, rejection and triumph as a young Maori girl fights to fulfill a destiny her grandfather refuses to recognize.
A beautiful film!
While 1994's "Once Were Warriors" was a violent look at Maori culture this is easily more upbeat and lyrical. Story starts out in a hospital where a mother has just given birth to twins and the male twin dies as does the mother. The remaining twin is a girl and the film is about her and how she thinks and wants to be the future leader of her village. The film is set in modern day and we see the girl Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes) as a 12 year old who knows that her twin brother that died was suppose to be the future chief. Pai's father is Porourangi (Cliff Curtis) and he's an artist who has left the village for a career and Pai is raised by her grandparents Koro and Nanny (Rawiri Paratene and Vicky Haughton) and she craves the respect from Koro but he is of the old ways and is still searching for a new chief. She wants to learn the ways of being chief but Koro yells at her not to fool with the sacred ways of their people. Women are treated as second class but Pai eavesdrops on Koro's classes with the young boys and learns the ways. The film is directed by Niki Caro and its only her third film but this should definitely put her on everyones list as a great future director. The film is beautiful to look at and even though its not a big budget movie the story and images make this an unforgettable viewing experience. Caro does a wonderful job of allowing the story to tell itself without relying on plot contrivances. Even though the story is more of a fable it still comes across as relevant and believable. One scene in particular stands out and its the one where Pai is receiving an award at school and she has invited Koro to watch her but instead of him making the obligatory entrance, Koro has discovered something more important. The performances are superb and Castle-Hughes gives I think one of the best performances of the year. What makes it so amazing is that its her film debut! You would think that you were watching a seasoned actress but your not! She's incredible to look at and in some scenes she comes across as so strong willed but then in other shots she's just a fun loving young girl. Castle-Hughes conveys both sorrow and pity as she dreams of being a chief. A remarkable performance that was crucial to the film. Without her performance the film would come across as more distant emotionally. The images of Castle-Hughes on the back of the whale as it submerges are so haunting and beautiful and its these scenes that give it a lyrical quality and the emotional impact of the story is impossible to ignore. This is more than just a film its a viewing experience that everyone must see! Beautiful, haunting and a performance that you will never forget. Go see it!
- Jul 4, 2003
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