Keswick Film Club - Reviews - Waru

Reviews - Waru


Reviewed By Roger Gook

Waru, shown on Sunday at the Keswick Film Club, illustrates the dilemma of how to criticise a film which is well-meaning and about an important subject, when the film itself is not very good. The film looks at the aftermath of the death of a child in a Maori community through eight stories, each told by a different director. The success of this sort of portmanteau film relies on how the stories come together to illuminate the whole, otherwise you are left with a collection of unrelated vignettes. Unfortunately Waru fails in this.

If you have not read any pre-publicity, you are in dark about the starting point of the child's death, as it is never explicitly dealt with and this vital clue is missing. The producer gave the eight directors a very tight brief, presumably to give some cohesion, but in so doing took away all creative freedom. The directors were from the Maori community, giving the films insight and rawness, but I suspect they were not very experienced. One wonders how the project started – did the producer have the idea and then seek out the directors, or did the eight directors develop the project themselves. The film certainly has the feeling of being made by committee, or made as a community project.

The stories have passion and are told with great feeling. There is a lot of anger directed at the male members of the community for their lack of engagement and dissolute lifestyle. The women suffer abuse and neglect, have limited power, but are the ones who keep the community running – a universal story and one that needs telling, but unfortunately not by this film.

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