Whale Rider (2003)
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Critic Reviews for Whale Rider
Newcomer Castle-Hughes' unaffected, confident turn makes it credible our heroine might retain her determination and self-worth despite serial setbacks.
The filmmaker knows how to seduce an audience without making it feel had. When a movie's this likable, it would take a very tough crowd not to be pleased.
Niki Caro roots her characters in a landscape equal parts mundane and boundless, incorporates tantalising sea photography and Lisa's Gerrard's ambient soundtrack, and lifts off into a sublime, Elysian ending.
The most effective and moving female empowerment movie in awhile.
[The story] is so simple that the audience gets ahead of it from the beginning.
Audience Reviews for Whale Rider
A poetic look into a different culture that really isn't too different, simply remembering that it was at one time and wanting to hold that memory. A small coastal community of Maoris deal daily with being New Zealanders while not being entirely so, particularly hard for a young pubescent lass ostracized because of her sex, despite that she offers hope of continuing traditions. Good performances by all the leads though the story worries around a barn door being open long, long after the horse has already gone.
A young girl might fulfill a prophecy in an indigenous New Zealand community. Though the film brims with authenticity, it is almost too authentic. There are voice overs explaining the culture in which the film is set, but I spent some of the film lost about the relationship between the protagonist and the legend she's supposed to fulfill. The patriarchal structure of the family provides grounding to the story, and the interactions between the characters are interesting, but the grand metaphysical puzzle that dominates this film isn't clear to one who is unfamiliar with the film's cultural backdrop. Overall, I liked Whale Rider, but I don't think I fully got it.
It is not very often that I'm impressed with a child actor. I'm usually just greatful when they don't totally annoy me and/or cheapen the film. But every once and awhile, I am blown away (Victoire Thivisol - Ponette / Anna Paquin - The Piano / Christian Bale - Empire Of The Sun) and Keisha Castle-Hughes performance here, is one of those rare ocassions. This film is not overly complex, but it is deeply moving and beautifully shot and told. The cast in general is exceptional, but also worth noting is Vicky Haughton as "Nanny Flowers". I didn't expect to be as moved by this film as I was, but it really touched me and that has everything to do with the performance of Castle-Hughes. She is completely engaging and totally bealievable in her role. A true "natural".
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