Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Boy is one of those rare things - a New Zealand film that's doing well at the box office (a week ago it had almost made as much money as Sione's wedding), that doesn't take itself too seriously and that isn't (too) black. It's comedy, and while it has tragic undertones you don't have to dwell on those if you don't want to.

Boy has been described as a coming of age movie but I think it's more a "this is what my childhood was like" movie. It's told in a very matter-of-fact way and part of its charm is that the boy narrator seems completely unconscious of what an amazing story it is - how an eleven year-old whose mother is dead and whose father is in prison can be left in charge of four younger siblings and cousins while their care-giver grandmother goes to a tangi in Wellington. Boy draws us a very vivid picture of life in a mainly maori community not far from East Cape in the 1980s where normality is no-one having any money, having a more intimate relationship with your pet goat than with your father, your friends having picking marijuana as their after school job, and being fascinated with Michael Jackson. Boy is the aforementioned eleven year old and his little brother Rocky (who might or might not have magic powers) is an almost equally important character

Into this normality comes Boy's father(Alamein), who roars onto the scene in a big black Chrysler Valiant with two fellow gang members (this gang affiliation is not to be taken too seriously since the three of them are all the members!) with the intention of finding the proceeds of a robbery that is buried in a field near his mother's house. And the crux of the story is Boy adjusting to the real Alamein, after having had a fantasy father figure for the last seven years. Alamein introduces Boy to drugs and alcohol with almost tragic results, and Boy finds the buried money with differently tragic results.

There are lots of things to love about this film - the cars, the clothes, the child actors, the dialogue and the accents. On of my favourite scenes was Boy serving his father and fellow gang members cups of tea in the Chrysler and another was Boy doing battle with the school floor polisher which was almost as big as he is. The finale (a Michael Jackson dance number which involves almost the entire cast) is a particular gem.

Watch the trailer here

Anne's rating: 4/5

No comments:

Post a Comment