Friday, April 9, 2010

Boy oh Boy

If you haven't been to see Taika Waititi's BOY yet then just go, and you won't regret it. Can't recommend it highly enough.

The lovely magical childhood perspective of Boy reminded me so much of the translucent childhood scenes from Jane Campion's AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE. Campion was able to translate Frame's brilliant writing about her very young years straight onto the screen - the innocence and sheer joy, the apparent absence of influence from the adult world and yet in the complicated microcosm of the children's daily life one senses the future and the grown up realities are already there, just ready to erupt - or can they be transformed by the magic too? Does the magic have to die when you grow up?

Boy is a joy.

My only quibble is not with the film but with the section of the audience that is going to read this film (as they did the Campion) as a documentary. I saw a review of BOY on Telly in which somebody said something like "What an eye-opener it was. I had no idea people on the East Coast lived like that". Huh?


Julie said...

A workmate told me he thought it wasn't giving a very good impression of NZ to overseas audiences, in terms of the poverty that the family were living in. I pointed out that it was set in 1984. He had previously missed that entire thing and had been confused by the Michael Jackson references, thinking it was set in the present day.

I've spent quite a lot of time out by Raukokore and Waihau Bay and thought it very true to the sense of place out there. That doesn't make it a documentary, just evocative.

I seem to recall a lot of people (myself included) had similar reactions to the living conditions portrayed in the movie about the Aramoana killings, sorry I can't remember the name right now. People living without power, really eeking out what we would now think of, in our comfy cities, as quite a marginal life. That would have been set around the same time.

The Paradoxical Cat said...

Thanks Julie. Yes, a beautiful sense of place, and I didn't think it was a negative portrayal myself. But it's the innocent viewpoint of the children that I think is the genius of the film. The magical realism adds a glow and a glamour to the suggested poverty that shouldn't be taken too seriously I think. Actually the family didn't seem very poor to me - they had electricity, a microwave, a car, a shed full of consumer junk, and they probably had a TV too in order to learn the Michael Jackson moves. The only thing I found unrealistic was that the children were left on their own, but even that can be explained by the fact that we're looking through the children's eyes and experiencing their feelings.
I'm currently living in a community very similar to the Aramoana of the movie. But it's one thing to choose a simple life and another to be forced to the margins by poverty.

Julie said...

That's a really good point, about the viewpoint of the children. I hadn't considered that.

I found the leaving the children on their own quite shocking too, but figured it didn't look like there was much choice. It wasn't just Boy and Rocky's parents who weren't around. I liked how it didn't seek to over explain any of that stuff but either gently showed it or just didn't mention it at all if it wasn't relevant to the story.

And I really liked the open ending. That's more like life than tying up all the loose ends.