Bro­ken clearly a labour of love

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - WHAT'S ON -

BRO­KEN (M, 100 MINS) DI­RECTED BY TARRY MORT­LOCK ★★★1⁄2

They say it takes a vil­lage to raise a child. Some days it also takes a vil­lage to make a movie.

Bro­ken, which opens this week for a hope­fully-not-too-limited run around our great na­tion’s cine­mas, is as ob­vi­ous a proof of that as you will ever see.

Bro­ken is set in an iso­lated coastal set­tle­ment not too far from Gis­borne. Lo­gan (played by first­timer and ac­tual lo­cal po­lice­man Josh Calles) is ex-pres­i­dent of The Mad Bulls. His mates are mostly still-patched hard ar­ses with an on­go­ing feud with the ri­val Pouakai gang.

Lo­gan just wants to be left alone to raise his daugh­ter Tori away from the gang that has taken so much from him. Tragedy and be­trayal in­ter­vene, and Lo­gan is drawn back into a life he hoped he had left be­hind for­ever.

To call Bro­ken an old story is an un­der­state­ment. The plot is based on the 1830s true story of a Ngati Hau chief­tain and his daugh­ter. That tale was the ba­sis of Joy Cow­ley’s Tarore and Her Book. Debu­tant writer-di­rec­tor Tarry Mort­lock (who is also a youth pas­tor) has adapted and reimag­ined the story for the present day.

The re­sult­ing film sure ain’t per­fect, but it has a lot go­ing on to rec­om­mend it. A more ex­pe­ri­enced di­rec­tor and cast might have had the con­fi­dence to talk over each other, go off-script and gen­er­ally give Bro­ken the au­then­tic hu­man mess of real life. As it is, the leads are all a lit­tle ham­pered by some fairly stilted and over-writ­ten di­a­logue, but the per­for­mances are mostly good enough to keep Bro­ken mov­ing along.

The stand-out here is Wayne Hapi (The Dark Horse), play­ing Pouakai leader Cruz. I reckon Hapi is just about the most watch­able and con­vinc­ing male ac­tor work­ing in Aotearoa New Zealand to­day. There’s a grav­ity and a power to his work that makes me think of what Bruno Lawrence would have brought to a sim­i­lar role.

Around Hapi, Calles and Ruby Grubb (play­ing Tori, very well) the cast – many of whom are friends or fam­ily of Mort­lock and the church – act out a story that holds few sur­prises, but which is win­ningly told and quite beau­ti­fully as­sem­bled. The cam­era, sound and de­sign work are all wor­thy of a far higher-bud­geted film than this.

Bro­ken may be a labour of love, but there is noth­ing am­a­teur­ish about it.

Bro­ken is a lik­able piece of work. There is plenty here to sug­gest that Mort­lock and his team have got other, more am­bi­tious projects than this ahead of them. – Graeme Tuck­ett

‘‘I reckon Hapi is just about the most watch­able and con­vinc­ing male ac­tor work­ing in Aotearoa New Zealand to­day. There’s a grav­ity and a power to his work that makes me think of what Bruno Lawrence would have brought to a sim­i­lar role.

Wayne Hapi, left, and Josh Calles are at log­ger­heads in Bro­ken.

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