When asked why he made a documentary about the lives of vampires What We Do in the Shadows (2014) New Zealand director and writer Taika Waititi responded by saying ‘I always liked the idea that vampires were a metaphor for marginalised groups; immigrants, homosexuals, anyone who’s had to live in the shadows of society.’ His latest movie Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) is also about people marginalised by society.
This time we are in modern day New Zealand, a police car draws up outside a remote farm on the edge of the bush country, a young 13 year old boy Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) emerges from the vehicle along side the child welfare officer Paula (Rachel House) and Andy (Oscar Kightley) a police man. Ricky has been in foster care all his young life after his mother abandoned him, never really settling into any of his foster homes and is described by Paula as a troublesome juvenile delinquent. This latest placement is with the kind hearted Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and her rather grumpy husband Hec (brilliantly played by the great Sam Neill). The bond between Bella and Ricky develops at a pace and the young boy begins to settle into his new home. That is until Bella suddenly passes away and Child Services informs Hec that because of the change in circumstances the lad must be returned into their care. Ricky fakes his death and runs away into the bush along with Tupac the dog that Bella has given him for his birthday. He gets lost and is unable to cope until Hec finds him with the intension of returning him to the authorities but when Hec injures his leg the pair have to rest up in the bush for some weeks. Meanwhile Paula has returned to the farm to look for the boy and finds the place empty and the barn burnt down. She immediately jumps to the conclusion that Hec has become unstable following the death of his wife and has abducted the boy. A national manhunt ensues with a reward being offered for the return of Ricky.
|Hec and Ricky go walkabout.|
Adapted by the director from a book Wild Pork and Watercress by author Barry Crump it’s a story about human nature and how two very different lost souls, one an institutionalised child who thinks he’s a budding young gangster and the other a bush hardened old man who can’t read and write and would rather be on his own and not have to speak to anyone, who form a respectful and loving father and son type relationship. This is a gorgeous movie that allows compassion and feeling while entertaining its audiences with a brilliantly funny dialog and a wonderfully over the top climax. This can be seen on Netflix as well as DVD so there’s no excuse not to see this wonderful rare feel-good movie that does not need a sick bucket.