Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Strength of Water

I'm finding it a bit hard to describe The Strength of Water. I think essentially it's about getting to grips with death; about getting used to living without someone you've been close to and about the process of saying goodbye. You might be thinking that this is sounding like another addition to New Zealand's great tradition of dark cinema, but despite the theme that's not entirely true - it's more a sort of grey, and that's certainly how the Hokianga landscape (where it's filmed) looks.

The chief characters are ten year-old twins, Kimi and Melody, who live on a poultry farm near the Hokianga Harbour. They deliver eggs for their parents after school and have a pet hen called Aroha. Melody dies from an asthma attack associated with an accident while she's with Tai, a teenager who is a a newcomer to the district, and Kimi continues to see her after her death, even though she's invisible to the rest of the family.

Kimi and Melody are a delight to watch - the actors do an awesome job. Kimi is fat and resentful and Melody is just a sweetie and they are a very tight team. Naturally his sister's death fuels Kimi's feeling that life is unfair.

We saw this the same weekend as Samson and Delilah, and comparisons seem inevitable. New Zealand film /Australian film; Maori teenagers who talk in rationed sentences liberally laced with expletives/ Aboriginal teenagers who don't talk at all; grey Hokianga seascapes/Northern Territory sunshine. I feel slightly disloyal but I think Samson & Delilah is the slightly better film overall - but the big strength of both films are the central two characters, who in each case are worth seeing in their own rights.

Anne's rating 3.5/5

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