Could a New Zealand film set in 1984 about a boy who idolises Michael Jackson and his dodgy absent-until-now father turn out to be the most sincere and endearing film of 2010? It’s possible as the blend of Magical Realism, physical comedy, snappy one-liners and socially observant drama in Boy makes it a gorgeous film with a tremendous amount of heart.
The film revolves around the sweet natured 11-year-old boy (nicknamed Boy and played by James Rolleston), his over-imaginative younger brother Rocky (Te Aho Eketone-Whitu) and their father Alamein (played by writer/director Taika Waititi), a petty criminal who is looking for a stash of buried money. Alamein is clearly no good but one of the film’s strengths is ensuring that he remains likeable and sympathetic despite his massive character flaws.
Waititi’s previous film Eagle vs Shark was a little bit too awkward and quirky for it to work overall but with Boy he demonstrates his considerable talents. Boy is consistently funny and energetic so that the sadder, darker and more serious aspects of the story, which are treated with integrity, never ruin the upbeat mood. All the performances are wonderful and frankly films are rarely this genuine and consistently entertaining.
Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 362, 2010