Whale Rider Reviews
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.
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".
This film totally held me from beginning to end and is very much about the storyline, one which is unique, full of emotion and not by any means a soft girly film, it?s a film of true spirit and loyalty and tradition.
Overall, however, this wasn't really my cup of tea, as I was expecting something a bit more engaging and a little less draggy. It's not that it was bad in any way, it's just more of a movie made for the New Zealanders themselves, who may better relate to the Maori traditions upon which the story here is based.
This is a great movie about tradition and acceptance.
It is set in New Zealand, revolving around a Maori tribe. In particular the life of a young girl played by Keisha Castle-Hughes. She is the youngest daughter in a family where the young male child is always the next in line to be chief. Unfortunately, the male has died, leaving a tension between the grandfather and the young girl.
The story is so absorbing, slipping in and out of coming of age comedy and drama. There are a number of memorable moments, especially towards the end.
All of the actors do what is needed. The film is well made, for a limited budget. The tone and pacing is well balanced. This is a wonderful little movie.
Koro: If you have the tooth of a whale, you must have the jaw of a whale to yield it.
Yet her grandfather Koro, the local custodian of his people's centuries and-old- culture, cannot see the truth that dances magically infront of him. He can't see how blessed he is to have such an extraordinary granddaughter. He, instead bequeaths his leadership to the son of another.
Pai however, finds the strength to challenge her family and embraces a thousand years of tradition in order to fulfill her destiny--her calling for her Ngati Porou tribe--and hence, trains herself in the ways and customs of her people.
Filmed quite naturally in and around the seaside village of Whangara, Whale Rider captures the very essence of the clash between traditional values and the modern world without ever using a heavy hand. Keisha Castle-Hughes as Pai is mesmerizing. Rawiri Paratene as Koro seems to personify the film's entire conflict in his weathered face.
One of the most touching scene is when tears stream down Pai cheeks as she chokes trying to get all the words out correctly of the ancient Maori songs to impress her grandfather, as well as her songs of encouragement to the whales. She was so sure that he would be there, that he would come, but he hasn't...
This is a brilliant film through and through.