Ricky Baker is a "real bad egg" of a boy and he had stretched the patience of the social services to the limit. His last chance is to find home with the new family on the farm in the middle of nowhere. Things look up at first, and for the first time in his life Ricky feels he belongs somewhere. But some sad circumstances make him and his uncle Hec escape to the bush. With the police and social services in pursuit, Ricky and his uncle have to put their differences aside in order to survive in the wilderness. Let the hunt begin!
The simple set up of this heart warming and hilarious comedy is solely focused on the main duo: Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) and uncle Hec (Sam Neill). Their dynamic is what makes the film what it is - a story of a true friendship and the sense of adventure. In fact the sense of adventure is what WILDERPEOPLE is all about. We get dangerous bits, hilarious bits and even sad bits, but all this is soaked in romanticism. The dramatic aspects of the film are seen through the eyes of a child, which softens all the harsh angles of what could have been in many ways a sad affair. It is amazing (and true) how quickly Ricky manages to bounce back from any trouble, and this energy, little by little, infects his older companion.
Julian Dennison is consistent and believable in his role of Ricky all throughout the film and is equal to Sam Neill's measured performance. Rima Te Wiata as aunt Bella has a small role, but it has a key importance to the developing relationship between the two leads and her presence is felt all throughout the film.
The movie is stunningly photographed with plenty of aerial shots. Without any CGI this still looks like a land of dreams.
But the most beautiful thing about THE WILDERPEOPLE is the writing. The script is focused, funny and has the right pace. There are no boring gap moments and this is how great storytelling should be.
The director Taika Waititi had already received his ticket to Hollywood, directing the latest installment of Thor: Ragnarok, but it's always the smaller projects like WILDERPEOPLE that have the heart in the right place. With no flaws that deserve to mention this is a family movie that has the spirit of true adventure and the characters that will stay with you for a lifetime.