Not often does a movie like this come along any more, or so I feel. A lover of comic-book action movies, sci-fi and fantasy, I am used to HD visual effects crammed into every corner of the screen, more than I’m probably even aware. It’s a breath of fresh air to see such a visually arresting, natural and simple storytelling feat such as Hunt for the Wilderpeople portrayed on the big screen (or not so big screen, for The Filmhouse was the perfectly chosen venue). I also love indie films, quiet films that focus on telling a story, well, and without excess. So it’s no surprise that I loved this movie from the opening scene.
Based on the book Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump, Taika Waititi’s screenplay is effortlessly funny, full of wit and charm, and perfectly portrays the very essence of what it is to be human. Within the first few minutes I am utterly hooked. I love the characters, I feel I know them. It’s this construction of the characters through well-executed dialogue and superb acting that allow such empathy to be felt (vitally) very early on. Our two leads, Ricky and his Uncle Hec, challenge us, reward and berate us for this empathy right through to the final scene.
Sam Neill and Julian Dennison give stunning performances and their chemistry is on fire throughout. I must mention Lachlan Milne’s cinematography, which is exquisitely crafted around the stunning, naked landscape of New Zealand. It lends a very tangible quality to their journey into the wilderness. It was such a pleasure to laugh out loud so often, come close to tears, all the while uninhibited in a room of people doing exactly the same.
Don’t miss it.