Director: Taika Waititi
Starring: James Rolleston, Taika Waititi, Moerangi Tihore, Te Aho Eketone-Whitu, Rachel House
With Thor: Ragnarok being quite rightly an overwhelming success, and refreshingly different from a lot of the other superhero films, attention is turning to New Zealand indie director Taika Waititi, whose previous film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, was also an unexpected success and one of 2016’s best films.
As I’m sure many will be as well, I took this opportunity to delve back into Waititi’s short but wonderful filmography, rewatching the hysterical horror-comedy, What We Do in the Shadows recently; a sequel to which has been recently announced following Ragnarok’s success and the piqued interest in Waititi.
The unassuming and lesser known Boy, had grabbed my attention when I saw it was recently screening at the Prince Charles Cinema in London, but unable to make a screening, I was delighted to see it crop up on Film 4’s schedule.
Boy follows the titular character, played by James Rolleston, who lives a humble existence in a picturesque village on the East Coast of New Zealand. Idolising both Michael Jackson and his absent father (Taika Waititi), “Boy” tries to emulate both his famous and real-life hero, learning something about himself along the way.
The “coming-of-age” narrative may have been done to death, but there is something so delightfully charming about Boy. Waititi’s trademark off-kilter humour, perfectly placed visual gags and razor sharp script seem transferable to pretty much any genre, and they work especially well here.
Expertly skirting between harsh realities, and fantasy, Boy manages to be a refreshing take on the coming-of-age sub-genre, frequently hilarious, but also surprisingly touching and really quite poignant in places. The misplaced hero-worship of his ludicrous father, takes “Boy” on a journey to discover that he is his own person, and whilst some parental qualities naturally transfer, each person is unique and special in their own way also.
It might have not been on a lot of people’s radars originally, but the heightened interest in this quirky and wonderful director, will hopefully lead more people to discover hidden gems like this one, which can only be a good thing.
I was pleasantly surprised by Boy, and it is certainly a film I will be revisiting. Definitely one worth seeking out!