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Whale Rider (2002)

  Directed by: Niki Caro
Written by: Niki Caro, Witi Ihimaera
Starring: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Cliff Curtis, Vicky Haughton, Rawiri Paratene, Grant Roa
Links: Whale Rider on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy the Book
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 9.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"With a heart as big as a..." - a review by pearly

Whale Rider is about Paikea (Keisha Castle-Hughes), a Maori girl who is born into a family with strong traditional values, and worse, born a girl when the new leader for the family is expected, and expected to be male. Her mother and twin brother do not survive the births, and Paikea is left with her grandparents after the pressure of it all gets too much for her father, and he leaves for overseas travel. And do Paikea struggles to gain acceptance from her strongly traditional grandfather (Rawiri Paratene).

Whale Rider is a really beautiful film. When I first saw the previews, it didn't hold much appeal for me, but with Castle-Hughes being nominated for an Oscar for the leading role, I decided to check it out. I wasn't disappointed. Castle-Hughes is brilliant as the young girl simultaeously trying to live up to her destiny and gain acceptance from her grandfather and the rest of the people in her village. She plays the role with such believable passion, and you really feel for her. The scene in which she makes a speech at her school to the whole community is particularly moving.

I found Whale Rider to be an emotional and inspiring film. It had just the right blend of sadness and syruppy bits (Hollywood take note!), not falling into the trap of having everything neatly tied up and ending with everyone as happy as pie (though that's not to say that it's not a happy ending).

It's wonderful to be able to see a bunch of actors as amazing as the ones on display here, that are actually people that you haven't seen in every second movie you've been to recently. I mean, how many more Nicole Kidman movies can I stand to watch in the next few weeks? However, even though they're talented, it's doubtful they'll get as much work as our Nicole, which is a bit of a shame. At the time of writing this review, the only other project that Castle-Hughes is down for is the next installment in the Star Wars franchise: Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005). I doubt she'll get much of a chance to shine in that forum.

One thing's for sure though, if she wins the Oscar this evening, then given her birthplace is Western Australia, you can be sure that us Aussies will be claiming her for our own, kinda like the opposite of how we call Russell Crowe a New Zealander whenever he does something naughty.

pearly gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 1 Mar 2004

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