It’s been a long time since a movie touched me the way Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople did. One minute you’re fighting back tears and the next you’re holding your side, gasping for air. If you haven’t heard of Taika Waititi yet, now is the perfect time to check him out with what is no doubt his best film to date.
The film is about a chubby little delinquent youth, played by an enthusiastic Julian Dennison, who gets caught in the middle of a manhunt with his uncle, played by the excellent Sam Neill. What follows is a heartwarming tale that will also find ways to illicit strong emotional responses from you, whether you’re willing or not.
There’s just something about Waititi’s films that are so irresistibly charming. All of the characters feel extremely humanized, which makes the film feel natural. None of the jokes are forced, they just naturally happen and are funnier for it. The bonding between uncle and nephew wasn’t shoved down the viewer’s throat; it let itself grow and breath logically. You really connect with these characters and get personally invested. These are the signs of a well written movie.
The film also delivers technically. The pacing is almost perfect, moving along briskly but still slow enough to allow natural development. The cinematography is beautiful and the New Zealand nature is on full display here. I was getting a lot of Wes Anderson vibes from the way it was filmed, which makes me excited for future Waititi films.
This quirky little kiwi film is a fantastic watch and reminds me why I love the movies. It’s a great little self contained tale about a boy and his uncle in the New Zealand wilderness. Simple yet complex, it’s constantly tricking you into feeling ways you just did not expect to. The offbeat humor might be a tad off putting to some, but I personally believe it’s one of the film’s strongest characteristics. Check this out, and then make sure you check out Waititi’s other films (What We Do in the Shadows, Boy, Eagle vs Shark) as well. I have zero doubt that Waititi is one of the brightest directors in the industry. Hunt for the Wilderpeople cements him as a name to stay on the lookout for.