At the end of 1984, budding teenager, Maori, Boy (James Rolleston) is identified at school as having ‘potential’, a word without meaning for him. His hero is Michael Jackson but, in his impoverished, parentless house with his younger siblings and cousins and his remote eastern New Zealand community, little is on offer to help him reach that ‘potential’. When his father, Alamein (Taika Waititi), a juvenile and delusional character, returns in search of old proceeds of crime all that changes. For both Boy and his younger brother Rocky (Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu) whose mother died during his birth, need to assess the course they wish to follow.
This is a simple and most enjoyable coming of age story where children need to make those difficult decisions about which parts of their parents’ character and ambition they wish to adopt and which to reject and follow their own nose instead. It also shows parents can come to learn more about themselves from their children.
Rolleston is stunning with a great screen presence and immense charisma. Waititi is also excellent in his over the top portrayal and young Eketone-Whitu as Rocky grows in stature as the film progresses with his journey almost overshadowing by the end those of the two main characters. The humour throughout lifts the whole without trivialising the plot or the messages.
In many ways this film is in parallel with the recently released Australian Lou with that film giving a very female perspective on the arrival of a disturbing father figure on an orderly but otherwise remotely located family and Boy the male perspective (with Waititi both director and writer as well as star with an Academy Award nomination to boot.) I found Boy the more successful with the characters and their reactions more believable and the setting better integrated into the story.
Winner of the audience prize at the Sydney Film festival and one of the top 10 films of all time from New Zealand, Boy is sure to find his way into Australian hearts as well.
Kryztoff Rating 4K
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