A Maori man lies vegetative on life-support; his grief-stricken pakeha wife prohibits his blood family from entering their hospital room. A young girl hates her strict Chinese parents, preferring the company of an old woman's rotting corpse, or running about Auckland city jacking cars and robbing stores with an older Tokolau boy. A young heroin addicts heavily pregnant girlfriend goes into labor and a little girl is born in the room next to the dying man. The plot may be disorganized but is connected profoundly by the romantic message that with effort and hope we can overcome our grief at loss and by accepting responsibility we can balance the forces of sadness and exhilaration.Written by
At times a little disjointed, "Matariki" is the story of how lives can coincide just through one violent act then overlap and metamorphosize into a new network of connections.
Everyone has their struggles, their strengths and weaknesses in this "slice of life" drama, and we see a common thread of wanting and needing love, of belonging, of being accepted for who and what they are. Sometimes it works out, at other times it doesn't, but more often they just don't really know what to do and things just happen...but they keep trying, however.
Each of the actors believably portrayed their characters: a gay couple living their lives with regular ridicule, a young couple with a baby imminently due that neither wanted in the first place, a mentally challenged man whose dog is his greatest friend, and a couple of teenagers just wanting to get away from the rules and misunderstanding with their parents. The central focus is the act of violence that has left a Maori former sport star in serious condition, his Anglo wife by his bedside. Never having felt accepted by his family before, nevertheless this potential tragedy may bring them together.
While not the most in-depth storyline, the simplicity of the direction, the pacing and subtle points of motive revelations are satisfying, and the climax very emotional. "Matakiri" doesn't try to be too much or full of itself. No over or underacting, and a few really poignant moments with standout scenes by Iaheto Ah Hi as "Tyrone".
I gave it a solid 7 out of 10, as I realize the director was perhaps focusing more on the relationships formed and changed by the attack, you can't help but wish a resolution as a viewer regarding the perpetrators. This is one I would also rewatch, which isn't always the case even with films I like.
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