Hunt for the Wilderpeople Review

Director: Taika Waititi

Starring: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata, Rachel House, Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne

The Overview

A national manhunt is ordered for a rebellious kid and his foster uncle who go missing in the wild New Zealand bush. (Source: IMDb)

The Good

The thriving indie film scene of 2016 has come up with yet another gem, in the form of the utterly delightful Hunt for the Wilderpeople, a small New Zealand film which has heart and good intentions in abundance, and is for me, one of the best films of the year so far.

There’s been buzz about this film ever since it’s Sundance release in January of this year, and following it’s release in New Zealand in the Spring. It saddens me that it has had such a small cinema release in this country, and has proven troublesome to track down in the multiplexes still churning out the blockbusters which have failed to draw the crowds over the Summer. I really hope that people find this film, because a film this good, really needs to be seen by everyone!

Whilst it takes cues from the quirks and colour palette of Wes Anderson, and is actually quite a nice companion piece to the other Anderson-esque Captain Fantasticin reality it is a film like no other; gloriously original, fabulously unique and completely wonderful.

From the offset, the characters are incredibly likeable, and I loved the dynamic between Sam Neill’s grizzled Hector, and Dennison’s plucky teenager, Ricky. Whilst the “odd couple” formula has been done before, rarely is it as wonderfully executed as it is in Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and credit has to go to the two leads for making this dynamic so believable, heart-warming, and genuinely lovely. Relative newcomer, Julian Dennison, is brilliant, and I really think he is destined for great things after this.

It’s a gorgeous film to look at as well with the always incredible New Zealand countryside proving to be a great backdrop against the story, and with Ricky’s garish wardrobe providing a pleasingly stark contrast against the sumptuous green landscapes. The direction and editing are interesting and dynamic, with some wonderfully off-beat pacing that really lends itself to the quirky nature of the film.

The soundtrack is a perfect match for this film, complimenting the whimsical nature of the story, but never taking it to the point of being annoying or twee, and is definitely the kind of soundtrack I could imagine listening to away from the film.

The Bad

Perhaps it is fitting for the nature of the storyline, but it does meander a little in the middle, which was really the only thing which stops it from being completely perfect. That being said, it never stops being entertaining and/or touching, so this is something that is easy to look past.

The Verdict

I saw this movie and you should too. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a pure delight! It is warm, kind-spirited, very funny and undeniably touching; a rare film which will make you cry happy and sad tears all at the same time, and you won’t always be able to tell which ones are which. Whilst it might not be easy to track down, I promise you this film is worth going out of your way for, and as Hector might say, it is simply “majestical”!

Agree with everything I’ve said, or am I a terribly misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Please let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to share as well.


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