Of Sadness, and Wilderpeople

Unplanned movie nights are the best, and spending those on gems such as Hunt for the Wilderpeople is the icing on the cake!

The film has been much acclaimed, and is definitely one you should take time out for. On display are amazing scenic view of New Zealand, humour from unexpected quarters, strong performances from the cast - especially Sam Neill (Uncle Hec) and Julian Dennison (Ricky) - subtle dose of emotions, and lots of drama!

Hec and Ricky, an illustration by Senne Trip.
Image Credit Facebook

(Some Spoilers Below.)

What stood out for me, however, was how it handled sadness. We all have our ways of dealing with life’s sad events. People often show their most unexpected sides when dealing with sadness, and that’s what happens here to Hec. Sam Neill underplays the character brilliantly, and also shines when Hec gets demonstrative about his feelings.  He bawls like a child when he discovers Bella (portrayed lovingly in the short role by Rima Te Wiata) is dead, an act he seemed completely incapable of up until that moment. There’s anger and frustration at display when he silently contemplates the pointlessness of services at the church. Beyond that he sticks to his shell, providing the perfect balance to Ricky’s many moods on display. The shocked expressions on display when Ricky accidentally depicts him as a child molester - nay molesterer - are the perfect comic foil to Ricky’s antics. You identify with the soup he’s getting in, and yet can’t help but laugh at the turn of events.

Between the two of them, Ricky is more of an open book and it’s Hec who we get to peel layer by layer, at a very gentle pace. From his personality to his past, we learn more about him as he and Ricky go deeper into the bush. You learn that he’s unlettered, has served jail time, and is quite capable of fending for himself in the roughest of terrains. He has the heart to love a dog, the courage to fight a wild boar armed with just a knife to save the dog, and the resolve to rid the dog of its pain when the need arises. For all his machismo, the silent admission that he’s lost without Bella is one of the most touching aspects of this tale.

The overlay of humour doesn’t let us get too sad about the reality of Hec and Ricky, it also makes us ignore the somewhat convenient happy ending for both of them. But I, for one, am not compalining :-)


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