out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
Starring: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri Paratene|
Director: Niki Caro
RunTime: 105 Minutes
Release Date: June 2003
Genres: Drama, Foreign
|*Also starring: ||Vicky Haughton, Cliff Curtis, Grant Roa, Mana Taumaunu, Rachel House, Taungaroa Emile, Tammy Davis, Mabel Warekawa-Butt, Rawinia Clarke, Tahei Simpson||
Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4
Niki Caro's WHALE RIDER is a touching, coming-of-age drama about Pai, a
child destined to be a chief but who has the misfortune to have been born
the wrong sex. Pai's mother and her twin brother die when she is born.
Soon thereafter, her father renounces his obligations to his Maori tribe and
leaves New Zealand for a career abroad as an artist. This leaves Pai to be
cared for by Koro (Rawiri Paratene), her stern, protective and prejudiced
grandfather. Koro eventually forms a school to teach the firstborn boys of
the village in the old ways. Since Koro doesn't believe it is appropriate
or even possible to choose a girl to be chief, he plans on picking one of
the lads to be the next chief.
In one of this year's most memorable performances, wonderfully likable
newcomer Keisha Castle-Hughes dazzles the screen with work so natural that
the only complaint might be that she isn't acting. Cute, but never cloying,
she casts a spell on the audience that lasts way past the ending credits.
The movie is slow and relatively uneventful, but it ends quite well. As
soon as you learn the explanation of the title -- the first chief was
supposed to have arrived on the island while riding on a whale -- you know
how the story has to end. Predictable the conclusion may be but don't be
surprised if your tear ducts moisten up some.
WHALE RIDER runs 1:45. The film is rated PG-13 for "brief language and a
momentary drug reference" and would be acceptable for all ages.
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes
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