CriterionCast

Travis Reviews Taika Waititi’s Boy [Sundance 2010]

“What if the hero you’ve been waiting for is a dick?”

That is one of a few choice taglines of Taika Waititi’s BOY, the tale of an eleven-year-old living with his grandmother, brother, a slew of cousins, and dreams of fame and family. His mother has died during childbirth, and Boy believes his father to be an athlete, war hero, and anything other than the imprisoned deadbeat he actually is. When his father finally returns, Boy must face the truth of who he is, why he left, why he’s returned, and what dreams can be salvaged in the aftermath.

BOY is relentlessly charming. Waititi has painted us a portrait of mid-80s New Zealand; its landscapes shimmer with a downtrodden innocence, and its characters (exceptionally-acted, both child and adult) accentuate this painting with inexhaustible humor and beauty. Tina Cleary, the film’s casting director, should be knighted.

The relationships among Boy, Alamein (his father), and Rocky (his brother), though rather fantastical in nature, do maintain a certain reality and sincerity that endear us to each of them. We become so emotionally invested in keeping this family together that we have difficulty taking sides in confrontation. Yes, there is heartbreak and tragedy, but it is coupled with a humor so rich and genuine, we aren’t allowed any time to remain upset.

Though I have spent the past few days trudging through the snow of Park City, BOY transported me to a seaside summer in the Southern Pacific,   but warmed my heart before my body. It is, by far, my favorite film of the festival thus far.

Travis George

Travis George was born and raised in Carteret County, a seaside community in North Carolina's Outer Banks. In 2005, he made the inevitable twentysomething's pilgrimage to Portland, Oregon, where he studied American Sign Language and otherwise busied himself with the various cultural curiosities of the Pacific Northwest. In 2006, he began (inadvertently) to watch solely the films of the Criterion Collection. His marathon came to completion on June 18th, 2009 (at 477 films), and he continues to remain current with the new releases His arrangements and social relationships have suffered greatly.

Travis makes a living delivering medical supplies, and plays in a folk band called The Ivonrose Family Jamboree (www.myspace.com/ivonrosefamjam). He is currently drafting a web comic which will launch in the upcoming month or two.

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