Fantail: Movie Review
Cast: Sophie Henderson, Jarod Rawiri, Stephen Lovatt, Jahalis Ngamotu
Director: Curtis Vowell
Finally getting a wider release after closing the New Zealand International Film Festival last year, the low budget Fantail seems destined for success.
It's the story of Tania (Henderson who wrote the film), a Pakeha girl who believes she's a Maori (right down to her pronunciation of words). Working the night shift at a local petrol station, she's saving money to take her and her brother Piwakawaka (Ngamotu) on holiday.
But when Pi starts working in the Bay of Plenty, his life begins to spiral - and Tania keeps on working trying to save the money to get them out of there.
Fantail is a self-assured movie that's as much about self-identity as it is character; Henderson's at once brought to life the vulnerable yet assured Tania, who does what's necessary to get through the night. From the continual dares thrown at her regional boss Dean (Rawiri, who's in for comic relief) to the kindly nurturing relationship with her boss Rog (the ever affable Lovatt), it's a snapshot of a South Auckland that's universally relatable.
Confines on budget and location don't mean cutbacks on the script and characters though - adapted from Henderson's stage play, this piece is rich in nuance and steeped in moments. While the ending is a little out of leftfield and seems to have been plucked out of nowhere, leading to a somewhat bizarre resolution, this piece of identity and questioning of belonging in the world speaks volumes amid its low budget definition.
Henderson is a presence to be reckoned with; while Ngamotu shows some acting chops for one so young. Rawiri brings the necessary levity to the piece which could have been a depressing outing, but which soars beyond its ambitions.