I am quickly becoming a Taika Waititi fan.
Great movie from New Zealand.
Justin Eagle Gauthier
Set in 1984, Maori writer, actor, director, Taika Waititi's Boy is a masterful look at nostalgia and relationships. Waititi captures a slice of time in the life of an 11 year-old boy nicknamed (wait for it) Boy, living in a completely rural part of Eastern New Zealand. As a work of fiction, this film does an excellent job of welcoming viewers. Production values are modest but feel accurate, Waititi and crew have created a unique world for their characters to play in. New Zealand shines here, the countryside is as verdant and vibrant as ever. You fully expect the fellowship of the ring to march over a hill into a scene at any second.
Taika Waititi is responsible for several masterworks in the emerging, contemporary New Zealand film renaissance. His early efforts include 2007's romantic comedy Eagle vs Shark, a film that successfully carried the torch of the nerd comedy phenomenon sparked by Jared Hess' Napoleon Dynamite (2004) and was kindled by Tim Skousen's much underappreciated The Sasquatch Gang (2006). Waititi is a prominent figure in the global indigenous film circuit and has expressed at different times throughout his career a responsibility to portray Maori people in real and respectful ways. In an interview from March 2015 on The Cuts With Sterlin Harjo podcast, Waititi stated that he feels, "...a responsibility in that I don't want to embarrass my family, or Maori people. Even if, like, in Boy the dad is a complete idiot, it doesn't really paint Maori dads in a good light. I hope that people are mature enough to know that it's just about an idiot dad, it's not because he's Maori."
The characters in Boy make the film, from the strong debut of James Rolleston as Boy to the blustering, plucky performance of Taika Waititi as the father, Alamein. These two performances anchor the film. The twin themes of nostalgia and relationship play themselves out in the starry-eyed hero-worship Boy attempts to imprint on his father. While the father embodies the back-and-forth of arms-length distancing to reckless abandon that some young men mistake for maturity. These characters, performing Waititi's screenplay, transport the viewer not only in time but also in place and emotion. Not everyone knows what it's like to sit in a car late at night outside of a bar and have to entertain yourself until your parent(s) decide(s) to go home. Those of us who have had that experience recognize the nuance with which Waititi treats his characters and his story.