17 June 2015 | lews22
A study of rural New Zealand in beautiful black and white
A fly on the wall documentary that follows the local rugby team in Reporoa through a single season, from late summer training to playoffs in late winter.
Reporoa is in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand, and the winter climate there is wet and cold, with frequent morning mists. The mist was probably one of the key factors in deciding to make this film on black and white stock, and the results are amazing.
The camera work is breath-taking, whether conveying the grittiness (and muddiness) of the rugby games, the mate-ship of the club house, or the mist-covered landscapes.
The film focuses on three or four team members who are all connected with dairy farming, a relatively new activity in this area, so the farms have an unfinished, pioneering look to them. (The other main activity in this area is pine forests.)
Women are hardly present in the film. The central character is a solo dad with twin seven year old sons, and the three of them give the film a much-needed extra emotional dimension.
The choice of modern classical music for the sound track, using strings only, seems odd at first, but in the end it adds depth and sympathy to the portrayal of these tough, hard drinking, hard living men.
This is not a film for the fainthearted - the bawdy rugby club scenes pale in comparison with three scenes of farmers assisting their cows to give birth.
Beautiful photography, beautiful music, and a cast of vivid and unforgettable characters.