Slow I am. Whale Rider was an Oscar nominee this spring through the auspices of Keisha Castle-Hughes. It came out early last year and has been out on video for quite awhile. I gave it to Krystal and Sarah from the Movie Mob and they enjoyed it immensely. But I didn't catch it until today. Well, yesterday actually, but I'm still in the same sleep-deprived period.
At any rate, this is a good movie and one that tweeners and up should enjoy. The harsh attitudes of Papa towards Pi might scare younger kids, so be warned.
Castle-Hughes, who could pass for Jennifer Beals' younger sister, is a plucky young Maori lady with a leader's soul. At birth, she loses a twin brother and a mother and it's not long before her father runs off to Germany. She's left with a loving GrandMa and a chieftan of a Grandfather who was counting on a son to continue the family line of leaders.
She has a warrior's heart, which all but Papa seem to understand as the gruff old man only melts occasionally and not too far. The speech scene where Pi talks about everyone being a leader and struggles to get through it while her guest of honour, her grandfather, is absent, is heart-wrenching even for an old grouch like me.
Turns out Papa is missing the event because whales have beached themselves, launching a rescue process that involves heroic effort and mystical aid. Grandly shot and with a minimum of words, it's very affecting.
I normally have nits to pick with most movies. It's hard to be picky with this wonderful effort. My only quibble? It's hard to believe ANY grandparent, now matter how dogmatic, wouldn't surrender to the little girl warrior that is Pi, WAAAAY before this curmudgeon did.