Hunt for the Wilderpeople: NZ indie film fun

New Zealand comedy: romping the field


New Zealand is definitely making her mark upon the world with funny, whimsical, tongue-in-cheek film. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is no exception.

I saw this a few months ago at Palace Cinemas with my brother who loves this exact type of film. You can still find it playing across Australia.

Ricky, characterised wonderfully by Julian Dennison, is an at-risk foster kid with a penchant for trouble. He is relocated to the bush to live with motherly Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and reticent Hec (Sam Neill).

Several times Ricky runs away until he comes to accept his new situation. But Bella dies and Ricky is going to be taken from his new home, so he takes up his old ways and runs. Into the bush.

Queue a romp of ridiculousness as Hec follows Ricky, and the police and social services get involved in a nationwide man-hunt.

Scripted wonderfully and run with, Julian is hilarious as ne’er-do-well Ricky, and is ably supported by Sam Neill.

However standout performances came from Rima Te Wiata as the quirky and practical Bella in her cat jumper. My major disappointment was that Bella ended up as the woman in the fridge trope, as her performance was so delightful it was a travesty for her to disappear so early from the film.

Rachel House cracked the whole audience up as dogged social services officer; consistently funny, finding the mark in every scene as the government officer who goes way over the top. Also, great banter with Andy, played ably by Oscar Kightley.

Special mention for movie daughter-father duo, Tioreore Ngati-Melbourne and Troy Kingi, who did much to elevate the comedic value at the end of the movie.

Only, be warned animal lovers: these characters are hunters, so there’s several (largely not gory) animal deaths.

If you like to laugh though, Hunt for the Wilderpeople will leave you with a smile on your face and the pleasant after-effects of a good time.

Edit: I originally incorrectly identified Kahu’s father as Stan Walker. Thanks to Jacqui Brookes for pointing it out to me.

Book review: Eyrie, Tim Winton

Tim Winton, Eyrie (Pan McMillan)
It is easy to sum up Tim Winton’s Eyrie: impossible heights.

Tom Keely starts out as an unsympathetic protagonist; an impoverished addict after his life came crashing down (ugly divorce, end of his high-faluting environmental advocate career), seemingly without a care for anyone but himself.

If you can get past Winton’s first bloated chapters dwelling in Tom’s misery in Freemantle, it becomes a more interesting story.

Tom begins a touching relationship with Kai, autism-spectrum grandson of a woman known in his childhood. The Keelys, most specifically Tom’s father, have been Gemma’s safe haven since she was small and it doesn’t look like that pattern is going to change now.

Kai dreams of his death, Tom relives his failures and the broad-spectrum abuse Gemma suffered haunts the edges of the story. And over it all is cast the shadow of Neville Keely, the only person that ever protected Gemma and whose shoes Tom could never fill.

Eyrie evokes the gentrified coastal areas of Perth and the ramshackle suburbs. It shines a light on poverty and the cycles of abuse that are manifest in misery. The longing for safety, comfort.

For being all about birds, this novel should have flown but it crawled. The path to redemption and recovery is a long, slow crawl but Winton waited too long to bring the likeable parts of Tom out and so the abrupt ending fell flat.

Despite this, Eyrie┬áis another excellent character exploration, Tim Winton’s hallmark, but I could have done more with the exploration of the Keely family, of the broken relationships surrounding Tom.

Eyrie had possibility that seemed to go unrealised. Engaging as you get toward the end, readable, but if new to Winton’s writings don’t start here (Dirt Music remains my favourite). If you’re a fan of Winton, you’ll enjoy his usual strengths but it won’t stack up favourably to his other works. Tim Winton has written better books.