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2004 Mini Reviews

Whale Rider (2003)

Whale Rider
Directed by Niki Caro
Starring Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri Paratene, Cliff Curtis
Running Time: 101 minutes

Whale Rider is the story of Paikea who is descended from a long line of Maori chiefs. She was a twin, but her brother died in childbirth along with her Mother. So instead of the new chief, they received a girl who by their laws was unable to possess the title. Unfortunately, the birth of her brother and been the last hope of the tribe, and after the tragedy of her childbirth, her people descended further into darkness.

The Maori traditions are personified by Paikea's grandfather, Paka. He is strict and although he does love his granddaughter, he does in fact blame her for the troubles surrounding them. Paikea wants to be accepted by him, and treated like a proper granddaughter, so she continually strives to get please him, while she comes to terms with her place in society.

This is a powerful and beautiful movie. The New Zealand coast should have a supporting actor credit here because it has an effect on every scene. The movie moves a little slow at times, but this makes it effective at making the audience understand the conflicting emotions that these characters are feeling.

Keisha Castle-Hughes steals the movie, and I really hope that her performance at least will be remembered come Oscar time. She should be recognized as a supporting actress.

Score: 9/10