There are certain stories that you can just feel the truth of. Whale Rider is one of those. The storytelling is so perfect that you forget it's a story; you feel like you are looking into the lives of real people. On the one hand, it's a glimpse into the Maori culture of New Zealand. On the other hand, it's a profound coming-of-age story. It's also a deep examination of why tradition is important, but also how it can hold us back. At times the film is heartbreaking, because Keisha Castle-Hughes' performance in the lead role is so honest, so vulnerable, so real that you forget you are seeing a performance; you see only a little girl trying so hard to be loved. Yet it is also a triumphant film, one which leaves you feeling good in the end. All I can say is, wow. What an amazing movie.
Viewed: 8/14/2003 | Released: 1/17/2003 | Score: A