Jan 27, 2011

DVD Review: Boy

Writer-Actor-Director Taika Waititi has a very good sense of humour, just one of his extremely admirable qualities . Really, naming one of the prominent supporting characters Chardonnay takes guts and a cheerful willingness to poke fun at yourself, as well as your country. If anyone half as talented makes a similarly-themed film about life on the Gold Coast, here's hoping they choose the name Mercedes.

Boy was a huge success in New Zealand last year, becoming the highest grossing New Zealand film of all time. The premiere of the film at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival gained the film the extra buzz it needed to make it outside the mother land: fitting, considering writer Taika Waititi gained momentum in his Boy process at Sundance in 2005 - picked to workshop his script and develop it further, this, as they say on reality TV, was the beginning of his journey. 

Boy (newcomer James Rolleston) is only 11 and he lives with his Nan (Mavis Paenga), younger brother Rocky (Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu) and his cousins in Waihau Bay, all left in the care of Nan.

Their father, Alamein (Taika Waititi) is a small time crook, wannabe gangster, and apparently attended the Ozzy Osbourne school of parenting. He returns, fresh out of prison with two members of the Crazy Horses gang (Chuppa and Juju - you've got to love those names) in a stolen, beat-up car . Boy asks if they'd like a cup of tea. They say sure. Cut to the next shot of the three Crazy Horses, still sitting in the car, slurping out of large cups of tea. Films need scenes like this one to set up the humour, to let the viewer know that although this is in part a serious film that makes a comment on society, it also knows how to have a blast.  

Boy looks at both the specifics and the broader themes of growing up and being a boy in New Zealand. At times, it seems like a harsh, bleak environment. Alamein is only around to dig up the neighbouring pasture for stolen money: metaphorically, he's out of there before he's even arrived. His half-arse attempts at getting to know his 11-year-old son and understand Rocky (the stranger, sweeter, and more artistic of the two boys) come off as trite and self-serving. He's a bad influence and the funny thing is that it's the kids, left alone for a week while Nan attends a funeral in a distant part of the country, who figure it out his game so quickly. 

Everything about this film makes sense, from the brilliant comedic writing, to the at times vibrant colour palette of the cinematography, to the interspersed Michael Jackson music videos in Boy's head, where his father is the star of all his boyhood adventure fantasies. Boy will make you laugh; in one particularly shocking moment, it will make you grip the edge of your seat. Furthermore, it will make you want to call every mildly annoying person an igg. We mean, egg. 

Boy is out on DVD Australia-wide now. 

No comments: