3.5, Southeast Asia


2010 / Taika Waititi > Though fatherly relations have been explored many times over the years in film, there’s a curse of over-sentimentality that’s consistently followed the topic. And sometimes it goes to the other extreme (as seen via Heath Ledger’s fantastic showing in Monster’s Ball). But in his follow-up to the uneven Eagle vs Shark, Waititi finds a quiet balance between tenderness and anger. Set in 1984 New Zealand, the post-Thriller Michael Jackson era is key in creating an atmosphere of naive hope that gives the film its foundation. In the titular role, James Rolleston shines as the Boy who finally gets to meet his father, revels in his initial presence before appreciating the consequences of his previous absence. This coming-of-age process is the movie’s central charm and also what makes it one of the year’s best under-the-radar experiences.