DailyView: Day 310, Movie 438
Taika Waititi has become one of my favorite directors. His work on Thor: Ragnarok, What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and Jojo Rabbit has been awesome. So when I came across an earlier film on Vudu called Boy with Taika as the writer and director, I was excited to watch it. He did not disappoint.
11-year old Boy (James Rolleston) lived with his brother Rocky (Te Aho Eketone-Whitu), their gran and a goat. Gran left for a week, leaving Boy in charge of the children living with them. However, Boy’s absentee father Alamein (Taika Waititi) returned to his sons from prison hoping to find a bag of money that he had buried years before. Boy had always admired and dreamt about his father in noble ways, but Alamein did not match this fanciful creation in Boy’s head.
Taika Waititi has the ability to take some of the most ridiculous things, seemingly random bits, but still highlight the humanity and the heart of the situation and the characters. Rocky believed he had magic powers, which was a silly, childish notion, but it came from a tragic backstory. He was told that he had magic powers because when he was born, he was unable to control them and their mother died. This, of course, was the way to explain to the kid that his mother had died in childbirth. It was both sweet and sad at the same time.
There are many examples of this in Boy. The relationship between Boy, who idolized the fantasy version of his father, and his father, who in real life was a gang member who drank a lot and was extremely selfish, is one of great depth and emotion.
James Rolleston is excellent as the titular role, and he has a shine in his eyes. His presence on screen is special and his chemistry with Taika Waititi is obvious. This is the essential relationship of the film and if it did not work, the film would fall apart.
The allusions to Michael Jackson was funny, too, as was the use of the Thriller dance at the end of the film using Māori cultural music.
Boy is filled with charm and packs a surprisingly emotional punch. There are some great performances from the three main characters, each bringing something special to the tale. This felt like a small, personal story and it was a wonderful film. You can see many of Taika Waititi’s skills beginning to develop here that would lead him to become a hugely successful director.