Sunday, July 24, 2016

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Director Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows) helms "Hunt for the Wilderpeople," a lively adventure about two people on the run in the woods of New Zealand.

A supposedly troubled kid Ricky (Julian  Dennison) is picked up by the cops and brought to a foster family. Bella (Rima Te Waita) as the head of the house does as well as she can, but the boy lusts for escape. After Bella dies suddenly, Ricky strikes a friendship with her husband Hec (Sam Neill) and they hit the trail.

The main spirit of the film is given by young Dennison whose wisecracks are more potent than a 1980's comedy and will have you in stitches. He is glib, brazen and self deprecating. Ricky sees himself as a gangster against the system, yet he is far from it, having the heart of a poet: he writes haiku.

This is essentially a picaresque road picture. Hec and Ricky meet lots of vivid characters on their trip. There are suspicious vigilantes. There is Psycho Sam    (Rhys Darby) a conspiracy obsessed person who disguises himself as a tree and Paula, (Rachel House) a self important foster care agent and frustrated police officer.

Ricky has the good fortune as well as the hinderance to think outside the box, to see survival as a concept, a fun game. Yet he is also struck with seriousness, mature for his age that individuality is being squashed by the pressure to conform.

The film is vivid and charming which evolves  into nothing less than a living comic book. Waititi's New Zealand is a place where the animals share equal weight with humans and even the trees appear to have a textured skin. Blood is spilled too, both in sternness and spoofing and it has pagan power.

This story dares to highlight a friendship between a kid and a curmudgeon without hyperbole or nonsense with a plucky, irreverent poignance, both savage and sweet. There is also something existential in young Ricky. Though well used to the digital age, he can either take TV and the internet or leave it. Ricky is content to let the babbling speech of his crush, Kahu (Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne) drift over him.

He remains disinterested.

While "Hunt for the Wilderpeople" makes fun of everything from "Mad Max", "Rambo" "Thelma & Louise" and "Fargo" with a hint of Roald Dahl, it is unique unto itself.

The magic of this film is that we see Ricky mature in front of our eyes from a stubborn boy into a worldly person and a creator of his own existence.

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