Tuesday 14 June 2016

Hunt for the Wilder People - a film review

From Taika Waititi (director of the brilliantly funny What we do in the Shadows) comes the equally brilliant and funny but entirely different Hunt for the Wilder People, the highest grossing New Zealand film of all time, showing at this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival

Ricky (Julian Dennison), a difficult teenager is placed in a new home with Belle (Rima Te Wiata) and Hec (Sam Neill). He's just settling in, when Belle dies unexpectedly, leaving the teenager alone with reluctant foster father Hec. Social services don't like this set up and warn the pair that they will be coming to take Ricky back into state care. Ricky knows that this means Juvenile Detention as no other family had been found willing to take him. He runs off into the bush, pursued by Hec and the two end up living in the bush for months setting off a nationwide manhunt.

Ricky struggles at first with rural life and is for example shocked by the violence of Belle's slaughter of a wild pig (a scene that foreshadows a later encounter with a wild pig in the bush). However when he and Hec have to take to the bush, he proves remarkably adaptable. The two survive by hunting game and foraging wild plants and always keep one step ahead of the not very competent manhunt - lead by Paula (Rachel Head) a social worker who is clearly enjoying this chance to play at being a police officer. Meanwhile the pair gain notoriety, partly through saving a ranger's life and partly through the power of social media.

The relationship between Ricky and Hec is beautifully drawn, the two clearly become closer as the film goes on, but Hec always retains his prickliness and Ricky his trouble-making tendency. Ricky's love of reading (and his habit of writing bad haiku!) rubs off on Hec, just as the older man's practical outdoor skills rub off on the teenager. In a touching scene, Ricky advises Hec on how to get over losing his wife, using phrases he's obviously heard from his own counsellors in his time in social care.

But how long can these two misfits survive in the bush before the law catches up with them?

Based on the novel Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump, this is an entertaining coming of age film set in dramatic scenery (I'm sure the New Zealand Tourist Board love this film!).

The Hunt for the Wilderpeople is showing at Edinburgh International Film Festival:

16 June SOLD OUT and 2030, 25 June at Cineworld.

It will be released into UK cinemas on 16 September.

Earlier today I saw the excellent film Bugs - you can read my review here

Disclaimer: I have a press pass for Edinburgh International Film Festival and attended a free press screening of this film.


Simon Douglas Thompson said...

The great Sam Neill!

RG said...

Always enjoy the reviews!