Friday, 23 September 2016

REVIEW - HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE (TAIKA WAITITI)


A gleefully absurd, caustic Kiwi comedy from Taika Waititi, more than proving his worth again as a writer of great skill, and also as a director of unexpected perspicacity. Hunt for the Wilderpeople may be too devoted to the regressive cliches it employs, even if only to gently subvert or aggressively mock them, to reach the level of high art, but the comedic heights reached herein are compensation enough. All that this script needed, in truth, was an able cast and a sure hand at the helm, and Waititi's mildly inventive, emotionally astute direction smartly provides the latter. The former is equally solid, with performances registering all along the comedic scale, and the film's finest situating themselves somewhere around the middle; little known local actors Rima Te Wiata and Julian Dennison make terrific impressions indeed. Dennison in particular is a marvel, matching the tone of Waititi's dialogue perfectly, a young actor in apparently total, effortless control of his craft. And, as with all good comedies, Hunt for the Wilderpeople rollicks along on the strength of a crackling screenplay, a variety of memorable performances, and a clear, mostly unimpeachable sense of purpose. It suffers a little from possessing an indubitably male-centric perspective, and from taking an easy road in plot, theme and style frequently throughout; Waititi seems content only to lightly embellish his material with the kind of diversions and flourishes that might have augmented it further, though might too have blighted what brilliance it has already achieved. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a fine, fun film overall, a wholly satisfying work of low art, and proud of it too.