Marlborough Mid-Week : August 20th 2014
16 MARLBOROUGH MIDWEEK, AUGUST 20, 2014 ENTERTAINMENT Dark Horse a splendid surprise NOW SHOWING BY MATT LAWREY The Dark Horse (M) ****1/2 (out of five) One of the best things about movies is their ability to surprise. Sometimes films surprise because their plots twist and turn in ways you never expect. Sometimes they surprise because they’re so much better than you expect. The Dark Horse is a case of the latter. Starring Cliff Curtis as men- tally ill chess genius Genesis Potini, the film is an unassuming little number that turns out to be the best New Zealand film since Boy. In fact, thinking about it, it’s even better than Boy. Set in Gisborne, the film opens with Genesis wandering through the rain on the edge of a fully blown bi-polar episode. After being taken in by the authorities, he is put into the care of his gang member brother Ariki, played by Wayne Hapi, whose son Mana, played by James Rolleston, is soon to be patched. Trying to get some order in his life, Genesis convinces his friend Noble, played by Kirk Torrance, to let him join a children’s chess club Noble has started in his garage. Genesis takes one look at the kids and hatches a wild plan. The Dark Horse gets so much right, it’s hard to know where to start. The based-on-a-true-story tale is compelling, entertaining and, given that we’ve reached that stage in the electoral cycle where desperate men start droning on about ‘‘Maori privilege,’’ it’s welltimed. It’s also a potent reminder of just how tough many New Zealanders have got it, and how the people we surround ourselves with can make us or break us. The acting ranges from very good to outstanding. Rolleston graduates from his star-making turn in Boy with a solid and soulful performance that suggests more good things to come. The charismatic Torrance provides nice support while Curtis and Hapi deliver two of the best performances of the year. Curtis, who enjoys a successful film and television career in the US, is almost unrecognisable as Genesis. Sporting a massive puku, missing teeth and a crazy hairstyle, he lives and breaths the character every second he is on screen. Best of all he doesn’t fall into the trap of overdoing Genesis’ various idiosyncrasies for dramatic effect. Instead Curtis keeps it real in a winning way. Must-see: Cliff Curtis, left, and James Rolleston as Genesis and Mana in the hugely impressive The Dark Horse. Hapi, meanwhile, burns up the screen as Ariki. The 48-year-old newcomer to acting delivers what has to be one of the year’s most extraordinary feature film debuts. As Ariki he is menacing, loving, vulnerable, angry, hurt, loyal, uncompromising, brutal, wounded and compassionate. His scenes with Curtis are among the best I’ve ever seen in a New Zealand film and if there is Photo: SUPPLIED any justice in this world, more offers will quickly come his way. The other great performance comes from behind the camera. Thirty-two-year-old James Napier Robertson is the real deal – with The Dark Horse he has delivers a screenplay full of cracking dialogue and drama along with moments of welcome levity. If that wasn’t enough he also proves himself to be a star in the director’s chair. The Dark Horse is directed with a rare level of maturity and a strong sense of purpose. No scenes are milked, the film’s a cliche ´-free zone and Robertson clearly has a gift for getting strong performances out of a cast. It will be fascinating to see what he does next. Bottom line: excellent and well worth your time and money. LI$T WIN A $ AND 4,000 SHOPPING SPREE FOR YOUR NEXT HOME!* Just list your property for sale with one of these licensed real estate agencies and go in the draw to win… A total of $4,000 worth of goods from the below supporting businesses. 6202640AA For more information read the Property Express on Thursday!
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