Finally, finally I've been to see Whale Rider.
The story was simple and predictable for the most part, but I don't think that's a bad thing. I don't need shocking twists. I need good storytelling and powerful performances and Whale Rider certainly delivered. I was frankly amazed at Keshia Castle-Hughes -- how can she be so good so young?
Yes, I cried. I'm not a fan of "feel-good" movies or films that try to manipulate me to tears. But this didn't feel like that at all. It was an honest story and so it brought out honest reactions. The scene at the school concert, with Koro's empty chair -- and he never shows up -- I may cry again, just writing about it.
I think my favourite character was Rawiri, the uncle. I loved the way he rediscovered himself through Pai. I loved seeing him take charge to help the whales, then comforting one of the men when one of the whales died. Also I loved his toque.
The ending was very satisfying, but I do confess that part of me wishes it had ended with the shot of Pai letting go of the whale and being swept away.