Film re­view

TV3’s movie ex­pert Kate Rodger writes about a New Zealand movie that faces up to one of our na­tion’s most shame­ful so­cial is­sues.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - ON SCREEN -

Star­ring Miriama McDow­ell, Tanea Heke, Roimata Fox and Aca­cia Hapi. Writ­ten and di­rected by Briar Grace-Smith, Casey Kaa, Ains­ley Gar­diner, Katie Wolfe, Re­nae Maihi, Chelsea Co­hen, Paula Jones, Awanui Simich-Pene & Jose­phone Ste­wart-Te Whiu.

Ibe­lieve it’s our re­spon­si­bil­ity to em­brace sto­ries de­signed to jolt us awake, crafted to dig deep un­der our skin, ex­ist­ing to make us think and think dif­fer­ently. Waru is one of those sto­ries. The film is in fact eight sto­ries wo­ven to­gether to tell one, streams of con­scious­ness pump­ing blood to the heart of the nar­ra­tive and col­lec­tively bring­ing to­gether the tal­ents of eight tal­ented fe­male Maori film-mak­ers.

Each chap­ter has a dif­fer­ent view, each in­hab­ited by dif­fer­ent fe­male pro­tag­o­nists, but each sub­tly in­ter­linked ei­ther di­rectly or as a splin­ter off one shock­ing event: the death of a child at the hands of his care­giver. It’s con­fronting, it’s volatile, thick with grief, rage, a guilty im­po­tence and a tor­mented des­per­a­tion.

As you might ex­pect from a fea­ture piece com­prised of es­sen­tially eight short films, there are strengths and weak­nesses in the telling. Choos­ing to shoot each one as a one-cam­era sin­gle shot in real time was a brave en­deav­our, one that for the

This film speaks to ev­ery­one.

most part reaps big re­wards but in places does come with a slightly re­hearsed and un­nat­u­ral beat. Most of the per­for­mances, though, are solid and com­plete with sev­eral stand­outs. Young new­comer Aca­cia Hapi, un­der the di­rec­tion of Paula Jones, packs an enor­mously pow­er­ful punch; sea­soned per­form­ers Miriama McDow­ell and Tanea Heke do the same in their re­spec­tive sto­ries. Also note­wor­thy is Roimata Fox as an adul­ter­ous school teacher strug­gling to process her feel­ings of guilt and shame.

Yes, Waru is about Maori women fac­ing up to the vi­o­lence and the si­lence within their whanau and their com­mu­nity, but this film speaks to ev­ery­one – all New Zealan­ders, of course, but far be­yond our shores too.

It goes with­out say­ing we can choose to spend our hard-earned dol­lars and our pre­cious time watch­ing Dame Judi play a Queen, Ryan Reynolds in the role of a body­guard, or take the kids to an­other one of those crazy fun Lego movies – and please still do one or all of the above! But I also urge you to stop, take a breath, and re­mem­ber the power cin­ema has to ef­fect real change, to re­mind us that the more we com­mu­ni­cate and the more we see into the heart of things, the bet­ter we are as hu­man be­ings.

Waru is an op­por­tu­nity to do all of those things.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.