For its fourth film of the fall season, the Vernon Film Society presents the highest-grossing New Zealand film to date, Boy.
It’s 1984, Michael Jackson’s Thriller rules the airwaves and 11-year-old Boy (James Rolleston) dreams of the day when his absentee father will return to whisk him and his younger brother away from their home in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty to see his one-gloved idol in concert.
In the meantime, it’s not unusual for Boy’s Nan to leave him in charge of his younger siblings when she takes off for a few days to run errands in neighbouring villages.
One evening on such a weekend, Boy’s father Alamein (writer and director Taika Waititi) unexpectedly returns home with his slacker, wannabe-samurai-biker-gang mates, the Crazy Horses, in tow. He’s been away so long that he doesn’t recognize his son, asking “Who are you?”
While Boy sees this as a chance to reconnect and hear of his father’s adventures, Alamein hasn’t come home to be his son’s hero, but rather to pick up the loot he’s buried in the backyard before a stint in jail.
One-time comedian Waititi’s refreshing direction and funny script imbue the story with magic, from its hand-drawn flip-book animations and Michael Jackson dance fantasies, to its bleeding sunsets, sweeping coastline vistas, and unforgettably colourful characters.
As Boy, Rolleston turns in a remarkably unaffected, seemingly effortless performance. The film charms audiences with its heartfelt, playful, and heartbreaking coming-of-age story of father and son.
“This unpretentious comic tale of a youngster’s growing relationship with a long absent father has a surprising rhythmic genius: joy juxtaposed with humiliation, silliness with sadness, fantasy with reality, and none of it formulaic. The editing feels fresh, as does the film,” said David DeWitt, with The New York Times.
Boy will be shown at the Vernon Towne Cinema Monday at 5:15 and 7:45 p.m. Tickets are available at the door and one week ahead at the theatre and the Bean Scene for $7.