I had no idea about the Māori clan in New Zealand. If nothing else, I at least got some information on Māori clan and the fact that they are natives from New Zealand. The Māori culture and language is strikingly similar to Hawaiian — indeed, the Māori name for their mythical ancestral homeland is Hawai‘iki. The film interestingly shows us family expectations and responsibilities, while being true to yourself.
Kawa is a mid 40s man. He has a secure job in a flashy corner office, a big house, a nice car, and a loving wife with two happy kids. However he harbors a secret. Yes, he is gay. He has ben spending some time away form his family because he needs time to think. Everyone including his wife and parents cannot figure out what has suddenly gone wrong with Kawa (since they do not know the truth). He is seeing this guy and is living in a portent on his own but still struggling. After some bathhouse trips and an affair, he realizes that he can't do this to his family and returns back hoping that his gay(ness) will not follow him and will leave him alone. When he visits with his family to his parents native house, his father makes him the leader of the Māori clan. This brings responsibilities for him. He needs to accept the truth and reality. He cannot suppress his feelings and decides to tell his wife and his parents. They are all devastated. After a lot of fights, disagreements etc, the family comes around and accept him for the way he is.
I was very surprised by the sudden change in heart in everyone. One minute everyone is giving him a hard time and next thing you know is because of the young girl, they all suddenly understand him and empathize with him. The end was a little abrupt for me. The relationship between Kawa and his lover was also not established very clearly. Kawa apparently was taking things slow but his lover was serious. Then how come, suddenly het gets a new boyfriend? But on a positive side, the film does show lot of things about Māori culture. The warrior dance when Kawa is crowned the elder was a great scene. It is interesting to see that Kawa never mixes his gay and straight life. He switches back and forth between the two, alienating those involved on either side. The film gets caught up in trying to present an “everyman” coming out story, when it would have been much stronger focusing on the subtle nuances and specifics of homosexuality and repression in Maori culture.
The film shows a fine line between selfishness and sacrifice when it comes to love, family, culture, and true happiness. Pretty good but could have been better. (6.5/10)
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