Directed by Taika Waititi
From 23rd September 2016
Reviewed by Colin Serjent
This is a quirky, humourous and endearing – mostly – creation By New Zealand writer-director Taika Waititi, who has a reputation for creating films which have these elements.
The main player is an obese 13-year-old delinquent boy – his so-called crimes are fairly minor – named Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) branded a ‘bad egg’ by the foster care system aka bureaucracy. After his failure to integrate himself with the latest family who had him under his wing, he is assigned to a couple, warm-hearted Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and grumpy Hector (the ever impressive Sam Neill) who live in a remote and beautiful location in the New Zealand outback.
After having problems adapting himself to his new accommodation Ricky begins to enjoy living there, mainly through the efforts of Bella, who genuinely likes him.
But a tragic event occurs which means he is likely to be moved on to yet another foster home. Terrified of this prospect Ricky decides to live in the surrounding woodland and cope as best he can.
Inevitably he becomes stranded in the terrain but Hector finds him. The experienced hunter has an accident and is laid up among the dense cluster of trees for weeks on end. TV News bulletins are shown wrongly accusing Hector of kidnapping Ricky. It develops into a nationwide story, leading to a $10,000 reward for the capture of the man and the boy.
There is a very overblown segment of the movie in the closing stages when it looks like a mass of security services are attempting to catch them. Nevertheless it does not diminish the impact of it, notably its growing bond between old and young in times of adversity. The location shots are especially breathtaking to behold.