Edinburgh International Film Festival

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

Starring: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata, Taika Waititi, Rachel House,

Directed by: Taika Waititi

Rating: 1 2 3 4 5

Every year I hope for something wonderful from the Edinburgh International Film Festival; a film that will make me laugh, cry, gasp and grip my seat. This year, that film was Hunt for the Wilderpeople, a wonderful, dark yet warm-hearted comedy from the makers of the best vampire movie in decades, What We Do in the Shadows.

Julian Dennison and Sam Neill in Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is a problem child (a 'bad egg', in fact). Sulky, sneaky and overweight, he's despatched to the middle of nowhere to be fostered by a rough and ready farming couple. But when kind-hearted, no-nonsense foster aunt Bella (Rima Te Wiata, aka the marvellous mum in Housebound) unexpectedly drops dead, and social services (in the formidable form of tenacious, bulldog-faced Paula Hall (Rachel House), a woman with all the tenderness and compassion of Bill Sykes) demand his return, Ricky and his curmudgeonly, grieving foster uncle Hector (Sam Neill) decide to disappear into the bush, sparking a nationwide, Thelma and Louise-style manhunt.

Like Up! with real people, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a wonderful, moving, incredibly funny movie that restores your faith in human nature and I absolutely loved it. Everything about it (with the possible exception of Neill's dodgy Kiwi accent) is perfect, from the gorgeous, sweeping shots of New Zealand's vast, dense, green forests to the brilliant script, which balances comedy and pathos with unerring precision. My hunt for a great film has indeed turned up gold.

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