Waru review – the disquieting death of a Maori child | Film

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A disturbing, disorientating if arguably flawed portmanteau movie about the death of a child within a Maori community in New Zealand – perhaps from neglect, or abuse. It presents us with eight 10-minute fragments, each directed by a different film-maker, each shot in one continuous take, all supposedly happening at the same time: at 10am on the morning of the funeral. The title evidently refers to the child’s name; it is also Maori for eight.

The short films are loosely interrelated, although I could see no Venn-diagram overlapping of specific characters. We see a woman preparing to cater for the mourners after the funeral; we see the child’s teacher; we see a Maori news presenter erupting with long-suppressed rage at her co-host’s casual bigotries on the subject of the Maoris’ alleged propensity for child abuse. (Could it be that white communities are better at concealing it and staying off the media radar?)

But we also see a young Maori woman show up at her house, drunk, after being out all night – to find she is locked out and she can see her baby crying in the kitchen. Had she forgotten about the baby? Did the babysitter abandon the baby? We don’t know. It is deeply scary. We also see the funeral itself, pulsating with rage and unspoken recrimination and horror.

This is a challenging, difficult movie, whose meaning seems to be unfolding behind the audience’s back. Some scenes are almost occult, like those in horror films: a young woman confronts an older man for his abuse and she seems about to transform into a supernatural ninja, demanding justice.

Perhaps not every section works. But Waru lingers, disquietingly, in the mind.

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Waru review – the disquieting death of a Maori child | Film

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