Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)
It is rare for an RCC film to receive total agreement from our discussion group but Taika Waititi’s 2016 comedy accomplished it. It was, to use a word from the film, “majestical.” Of course, we had seen odd couples and runaways before in movies, but for us, this film was “pure cinematic magic.” It managed to combine laughter with serious social commentary. We won’t forget the “No child left behind” empty slogan voiced by the child welfare officer Paula Hall, perfectly played by Rachel House.
We loved the mixing of the real and surreal and the pacing of the film kept us completely engaged. The minor characters pleased us as much as Sam Neill’s dour Hec and Julian Dennison’s Ricky Baker, a foster child with a chequered past. Psycho Sam was a great favourite of everyone, a conspiracy obsessed survivalist, carrying a bush on his back for camouflage.
We had special praise for Taika’s use of music, for example, Leonard Cohen’s The Partisan song in the snowy forest scene. One member of the group felt the minimalist script meant you could “breathe with the wide expansive scenery”.
We appreciated the beauty of the New Zealand location and talked about other films from the country. ‘Waru’ was recommended, made by a group of Maori women directors. We continued to talk together enthusiastically about the film even after our discussion group finished, with the sound of thunder and lightning outside.