Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

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It’s January, it’s cold and it’s just generally miserable. What better way to cheer yourself up by watching the most uplifting, joyful film of 2016?

Written and directed by Taika Waititi, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is the story of Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) a young boy who is finally adopted after years in the New Zealand social system, by a couple who live in a remote farm on the edge of the bush. While Bella (Rima Te Wiata) is excited by Ricky’s arrival, her husband Hector (Sam Neill) is less thrilled, spending his time grumpily trudging round the farm. After Bella’s sudden death, both characters escape into the bush and become the targets of a nationwide manhunt.

If this sounds  like the very opposite of a cheerful, happy film, don’t worry. Sam Neill is excellent as Hector, both extremely cankerous and utterly caring at the same time, in his own special way, while Julian Dennison’s performance of Ricky definitely mark him out as someone to watch. The chemistry between the leads is a perfect mix between annoying and caring, as through their adventures they move from two people brought together by circumstance and family.

This being a film set in New Zealand, it has plenty of sweeping helicopter shots, showing the landscape in all its glory as well as several Lord of the Rings references. Waititi’s frequent collaborator Rhys Derby also makes an appearance as ‘Psycho Sam’, a man living in the bush who, true to his name, has gone slightly mad. And although  Neill and Dennison are undoubtedly the stars of the piece, it is the antagonists social worker Paula (Rachel House) and useless police officer Andy (Oscar Kightly) who provide as much amusement with their often failed attempts to catch the pair.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople veers between a heartfelt film about the meaning of family to a western thriller, with shootouts, dangerous boars and a beautifully choreographed police chase in the final act.

Do yourself a favour in these rubbish months and check out this gem of a film on Netflix now!

P.S If the Ricky Baker Birthday Song doesn’t warm your heart, there is something wrong with you.

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