Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Review of 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople'

One of those 'charming' films about a gradually developing relationship between a curmudgeonly old bloke and a dysfunctional young boy. The boy is placed in the foster care of a couple on an isolated NZ farmhouse, after a bad start he settles down, the foster-mother dies and he and the foster-father disappear into the bush - and are then hunted down by social services, the police, bounty hunters and eventually the army.

It's not quite as charming as the trailer implies, but it was watchable - the more so because of the stunning landscape photography. New Zealand looks amazing - the more so because it never looks pretty. Sam Neil acts well as the curmudgeon, though he's not as dysfunctional in attitude as he ought to be given the character's history and behaviour. Oh, and the film is not suitable for vegetarians.

Social services come off really badly - the woman leading the manhunt is a caricature of all the nasty social workers there ever were, and there is the implication that children in 'care' are allowed to die without much concern or afterthought. New Zealanders - the white ones, anyway - come across as surly, uncommunicative and with unresolved anger issues; I've only been to New Zealand once, from Sydney, and that's exactly how it seemed to me. I've had lots of lovely NZ friends, so sorry if this seems mean - but the whole time I was in the country it felt like a fight was about to break out, and several did.

Obtained via informal distribution and watched on a laptop in bed.

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