Our reviewer was in no doubt that the star of this "wonderfully refreshing and evocative modern fairytale" was the young actress Keisha Castle-Hughes. Not only is she "poised and unaffected" in the film, but in interview she turns out to be just as impressive.
Regular DVD purchasers will be well used to sycophantic featurettes where a director or star is singled out by the rest of the production as someone to be lauded to the point of excessive nausea. Keisha gets plenty of praise from all who talk about her in the behind-the-scenes documentary, but the genuine nature of what all say is so enjoyable to see, especially when Keisha is so matter of fact about everything.
Building Boats And Whales
You can see some great footage of the animatronic whales in the documentary, plus see the making of the large canoe in a separate Te Waka featurette. Both show how a tight budget can combine with a talented and driven crew to produce something special.
Laughter And Tears
Director Niki Caro turns in a friendly and often amusing commentary that complements the mood of the film perfectly. The best part of the DVD, though, is a remarkable screen test by Keisha that may move many to tears. Along with some strong deleted scenes, this is material that those who were moved by the film will appreciate.
This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-N5 DVD player.