Before we soon dive into the colourful and crazy world of director Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnorok, and long before the hit Hunt for the Wilderpeople, there was a humbling beginning for the New Zealand born filmmaker in the form of the big hearted coming of age tale Boy (2010), which finally has a UK release.
Set in New Zealand in 1984, Boy follows the story of a loveable 11-year old kid known simply as the titular “Boy” to everyone who knows him. We see the world through the eyes of Boy (James Rolleston), a loyal Michael Jackson fan and his younger brother Rocky (Te Aho Eketone-Whitu) whose incredible imagination and blissful naivety instantly sets the tone from the opening scene. The boy’s father Alemein (played by Taika himself) has been estranged from before Rocky was born and is thrust back into the brothers lives after his stint in prison. Since an early age Boy has seen his father as a hero and must now comes to terms with who his dad truly is.
As with most independent films that have limited budget, the focus is on how creative the entire team can be with the tools at their disposal and Waititi truly delivers one of the best comedies to come out of that part of the world. The central performances from the young cast is something to behold. Rolleston brings so much life to Boy that you simply cannot see another one else playing the part, which is partly down to Taika deciding to cast him in the lead role at the last moment.
Even though the location may be centred on a small community of families (including one whose children are named Dallas, Dynasty and Falcon Crest), the cinematography creates a great big playground for these actors to really elevate. The town feels like a paradise and a dump at the same time. That, on top of the fact that from time to time we see dream like sequences through the colourful crayon drawn mind of young Rocky keeps that child-like layer drifting over the film.
As sincere and heartwarming as this my sound, that does not detract from the fact that Boy absolutely puts many blockbuster comedies to shame. Countless uses of cleverly placed props in the background to help elevate the foreground to Edgar Wright levels of off-screen techniques provides proof that Taika Waititi knows what works in this, the hardest of genres to appeal to the widest audience.
All of this topped off with a genuinely satisfying conclusion makes for a beautiful concoction of laughs and smiles that puts Boy as a must-see for film fans. Waititi is a name to positively watch because the sky’s the limit for this passionate director.
Boy is released in the UK on October 13th.