Another film review retrieved from journals past, this time Eagle Vs Shark (2007). If you want to know what Taika Waititi was up to prior to What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt For The Wilderpeople, well, this is it.
EvsS is (surprise!) a quirky New Zealand indieflick about a shy romantic (Lily, played by Loren Horsley) with the misfortune to fall in love with self-obsessed geek Jarrod (Jermaine Clement, pre-Conchord mania) at a 'come as your favourite animal' party. The film follows them as they return to his home town for a showdown with the school bully.
As well as being deadpan funny, 2007 me found EvsS unexpectedly moving. It illustrates not just the pitfalls in both self-centredness and passivity, but also how they can reinforce each other. Happily for the viewer, it also shows that these stances can shift, no matter how firmly embedded they seem.
There's some fine comic ensemble playing, but what carries the film are the two main leads. Clement plays Jarrod with sufficient vulnerabilty that you can sense the damage underneath the bursts of staccato bravado. Meanwhile Horsley adroitly moves Lily from a woman with her heart in her mouth at all times to one who finally holds herself like she's answered her own question.
EvsS is no Wilderpeople, yet if you want to see early signs of the comic humanism that powered last year's breakout success, you'll find plenty of evidence here.