Rurangi - Rurangi (Watch-On-Demand/ DVD) [Peccadillo Pictures - 2022]
Rurangi is a New Zealand-made/ based coming-home drama, which tattles themes of gender identity, loss, Indigenous conflict, and how love can change/develop. The film is largely rural based- bringing together huge sky moodiness, with closer up/ just over-the-shoulder cinematography. With a well-selected and believable cast, who manage to sell a range of emotions well. Here on Peccadillo Pictures, as either Watch-On-Demand or DVD release of this 2020 film.
Rurangi was initially planned as a web drama but was down the line edited into a one-hour and twenty-minute film, as well as a five-part TV drama for New Zealand TV. It was directed by Max Currie- whose previous directing work took in episodes of Queer Nation- a magazine show regarding the lives and culture of queer people in Aotearoa New Zealand, which ran between 1993 and 2004. Magician-focused drama Everything We Loved (2014). As well as writing credits on other TV dramas.
The film focuses on Caz Davis (Elz Carrad) who is returning to his rural hometown after to leaving for the big city ten years back. He left the town as a young woman, and is now returning as a transgender man. His first encounter is with his old friend Anahera (Awhina-Rose Ashby), who has come to terms with her own gay sexuality but is still having issues coming to terms with her Māori heritage. Caz is most nervous about encountering his father Gerald(Kirk Torrance)- a local farmer who has allying health but is determined to try and push through a greener form of farming in the local dairy industry.
The build-up/ tension to son meeting father is done extremely well, and you feel for both Caz and Gerald. As the film unfolds more awkward/ difficult situations arise- with one of the most key of these being when Caz meets Jem(Arlo Green) a worker on Gerald’s farm, who dated Caz when he was a woman.
Cinematography wise we get a nice mix of big rural skies, and more up-close/ personal shots. With all of the cast handled their roles in a very believable and balanced manner. Remarkable this is Carrad first acting role, and he holds up wonderfully as the film's lead. Yes, Rurangi, has a clear LGBT focus, but this is never overplayed/overdone- and ultimately it works as a well-acted and well-scripted drama about change and coming to terms with it, one way or another. It’s a compelling film, which will appeal to anyone who enjoys well-acted drama- no matter if you are gay or straight.
I’ve reviewed a digital screener of the film, so I can’t comment on the on-disc extras- but the DVD takes in the following: Behind the Scenes with Star Elz Carrad, Kaupapa – Our Process, UK Theatrical Trailer, Rūrangi Original Series – UK DVD Exclusive.
I’ll be keeping my eye out on what the film's lead does next, as well as upcoming work from the film’s director too. And if you enjoy well-made drama that tattles sometimes difficult/ less approached themes then will Rurangi most certainly appeal.Roger Batty