In­spir­ing Kiwi doco proves ed­u­ca­tion is the sil­ver bul­let

The Timaru Herald - - $ -

Ter­rance Wal­lace was ab­ducted by a lo­cal gang. He was forced to his knees, told he was go­ing to die, had a gun put to his head and the trig­ger was pulled.

The gun failed to fire. The gang tried again, with a dif­fer­ent gun. It also wouldn’t fire.

A while later, Wal­lace won a bal­lot to at­tend a bet­ter-re­sourced and man­aged high school than the one he would oth­er­wise have gone to.

He cred­its those breaks with mak­ing him the man he is to­day – a suc­cess­ful busi­ness leader with an over­whelm­ing grat­i­tude for his own good for­tune and drive to give as much back to the com­mu­nity as he can.

Wal­lace came to New Zealand a few years ago. And, while like every tourist he was struck by the beauty of the place, he also no­ticed that in New Zealand, just as in the United States, poverty and dis­em­pow­er­ment of­ten wear a brown skin.

In The Zone is the story of what Wal­lace did next, in New Zealand and in Chicago. And it is a lit­tle rip­per.

If, like me, you be­lieve that ac­cess to a great ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem truly is the magic bul­let for al­most all of so­ci­ety’s ills, then you will love this.

And if you don’t get that yet, then this is the film to con­vince you. I am just amazed that the story of the InZone Project and foun­da­tion isn’t world fa­mous in New Zealand yet. It truly de­serves to be. he badly needs a blood trans­fu­sion. Un­for­tu­nately, his par­ents and his re­li­gion (Je­ho­vah’s Wit­ness) for­bid such a pro­ce­dure, as they be­lieve ‘‘the soul is in the blood’’.

With time very much of the essence, Maye de­cides to take the rad­i­cal so­lu­tion of vis­it­ing the boy in hospi­tal be­cause she needs to know that ‘‘he has thought this through’’.

That de­ci­sion al­ters the course of both their lives.

Adapted by Ian McEwan (Atonement, On Ch­e­sil Beach) from his own 2014 novel, The Chil­dren Act pro­vides plenty of food for thought and com­pelling drama.

He and di­rec­tor Richard Eyre do a ter­rific job of keep­ing the au­di­ence guess­ing as Maye lets her­self be drawn into her lat­est case more deeply than in­tended. Chil­dren also acts as a ter­rific por­trait of two marriages in cri­sis – Maye’s own and that of Adam’s par­ents.

It helps that Eyre and McEwan can also draw on a ter­rific cast that in­cludes newly minted Dame Emma (The Re­mains of the Day, Howard’s End) in one of her finest per­for­mances, a heart-wrench­ing White­head (whose mother had ap­par­ently just died from the same can­cer), the al­ways re­li­able Tucci (Julie and Ju­lia, Spot­light), and a fab­u­lous sup­port­ing cast.

At times, it does feel more like a stage play than a fea­ture film, but that’s only be­cause of the in­ten­sity of the emo­tions on dis­play. Like­wise, the more mea­sured pac­ing won’t be for ev­ery­one.

How­ever, this is a ri­poste for any­one who thinks that all the great con­tem­po­rary British drama can only be found on tele­vi­sion.

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