Uncharted Filmhaüs: Reviewing ‘Boy’


Welcome to Uncharted Filmhaüs: the magical land of films you’ll probably never watch.


Released 2010, New Zealand – Writer/Director Taika Waititi

If you’ve ever watched a Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre) film and said to yourself, “That was funny, silly and weirdly sweet at the end, but lacked any real meaning or depth,” then please allow me to direct your attention to the work of Taika Waititi.

Waititi (Eagle vs. Shark, What We Do In the Shadows), a New Zealand based writer, director and actor, has mastered that hard to reach balance between “shake your head” comedy and an authentic, profound reality. In Eagle vs. Shark, Waititi gave audiences a chuckle as his characters awkwardly engaged in an atypical silver screen romance. And while Eagle vs. Shark was a remarkable film in and of itself, Waititi still managed to strengthen his voice and talent as a filmmaker and grab hold of a more insightful and reflective story for his next film, Boy.

Boy is the tale of an eleven-year-old child named Boy (James Rolleston), who serves as the patriarch of the family while his grandmother went away for a few days. He is tasked with the responsibility and care of his younger brother and several cousins. Boy, while perfectly capable of all that is asked of him, loses himself in the wonder and awe of how he imagines his estranged father’s life and adventures to be, awaiting his eventual return. When Boy’s father does return, he is challenged and torn by the reality of who his father truly is and faces an impossible decision: Accept Reality or Champion the Dream. Boy is much more than the dynamics of its central characters and their quirky interactions, as each character is given proper space and time to develop. Located in the Garcia-Marquez-esque small town of Waihau Bay, New Zealand, the lost and lonely people of Boy’s life all seem to be waiting for something. While some are waiting for a way out, others are simply waiting for answers. And as Boy stands in the presence of a father he barely remembers, clarity sneaks past his imagination and offers a solemn yet acceptable reality.

Rarely can one say that a movie was ridiculously perfect. Or maybe it was perfectly ridiculous. Each metaphor hung low enough to grab onto, yet nothing was obvious and nothing was too far out of reach. No matter the character, each stood for something. Even the ones that were there only to be remembered.

Boy makes us wonder if something is really better than nothing. Or if nothing is something that even exists. Taika Waititi is wise to use the unknown people and lands of eastern New Zealand to tell his story, as their anything reminds us of our something.

So, sit back, grab a bowl of popcorn, and stretch your legs, your mind and your soul.