Aside from the Lord of the Rings trilogy and its soon-to-bank-crazy-cash-prequel The Hobbit, New Zealand hasn't served as a setting all too often in the annals of film. But the island nation has produced some quality independent films with Whale Rider and Once Were Warriors and finally Boy comes ashore - a delight of a film that debuted at Sundance back in 2010, making its way to theaters in very limited release. It's one of those flicks that has more resonance than you may at first realize and a level of charm that few films contain.
Set in 1984 in the remote eastern New Zealand town of Waihau Bay (similar to Whale Rider in locale), Boy begins with a bang - writer-director Taika Waititia unleashes a vibrant montage of the Michael Jackson-obsessed Boy's existence and the multitude of characters in play alongside: his younger daydreamer of a brother Rocky, a slew of cousins and a goat named Leaf to boot.
Missing amongst the menagerie is Boy's father Alamein (the strong Waititia wearing multiple hats), the guy's been MIA for the majority of Boy's life but suddenly materializes with a pair of hoodlums in tow. Raised by his grandma after his own mother's premature death, Boy must reconcile the vision of what he believed dad to be versus the stark reality - the dude's a bit of a thug.
James Rolleston is spectacular as "Boy". He's a dead ringer for a young Tiger Woods and like Eldrick, struts prodigious talent throughout. With the movie hinging on his performance, Rolleston drains the 20-footer.
With visions of Danny Boyle's magnificent Millions dancing through my mind, Boy keenly captures the lens with which an 11-year-old sees his world. It's raw in feel and somewhat unrefined but overflowing with imagination, Boy is an unexpected treat in a world of mega-produced moviedom.