Boasting stunning cinematography and brilliant performances that are able to straddle some of the film’s more controversial and improper situations, ‘Hunt For The Wilderpeople’ provides some relevant arguments but in structurally flawed manner.
The film feels like numerous, scattered moments, of which some are quite extraordinarily poignant in both humour and emotional resonance, but with little connective tissue. The chapter-like structure seems to enforce this, as if it was Waititi’s vision for his film to be enjoyable in parts, but not as a whole. Each of the two main character’s arcs jump all over the place, but not in a meaningful manner. The different perceptions each character has of the other throughout the film does have some reason, with Waititi attempting to highlight the journey of an oddball couple and how they influence each other, but I never saw their bond as anything more than an individualistic requirement to survive or free themselves from the administration and restraints of society. One minute they like each other, the next they don’t. There was little exposition to say why this change occurred, just that it did. By the end of the film, the relationship has certainly changed, but it doesn’t feel earned or backed up by anything but that the pair have spent so much time together and therefore had to rely upon each other. There is no emotional connection between the two, nor is there any similarity in upbringing, ambition or world-view. One could argue that it is the journey that is their similairty, but considering how it ends, I can’t see how this would push them back to each other.
I was also waiting for a twist or grand reveal, because, again, instead of feeling like a fully formed and constructed narrative or arc, I felt the film was missing something that would eventually be revealed. I thought maybe one of the characters was acting as an unreliable narrator and they were leaving parts out for reasons that would be eventually explained. But no, this was never resolved. The film’s themes (besides the obvious discussions of archetypal relationships) are fairly solid, especially when discussing the contrast between new and old, elderly stereotypes, and family. I also sensed there was some subtext regarding mental diseases and the consequences of isolation, but that never seemed to come to anything and I feel like the films humour often made fun of some serious issues it was otherwise advocating for. 3/5