The Whale Rider (7)

 Copyright © 2003 by Tony Medley


Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes), whose mother and twin brother died at birth, would be the heir apparent to become chief of the tribe if she were male.  Her father wants no part of it and moves away, leaving Pai to be brought up by her grandparents.  Her uncle has accepted the fact that he’s not going to be chief, but comes to Pai’s aid when her tribal chieftain grandfather, Koro (Rawiri Paratene), gruffly tradition-bound, refuses to consider his 11-year-old granddaughter, despite her obvious predilection to become chief.  She is driven but he’s blind to her.  She persists; he rejects…time and again. This is a mythological story that tugs at the heartstrings.  Despite the constant rejections, Pai continues to honor and love her grandfather.  Castle-Hughes, in her first role, is simply spectacular. Some may find The Whale Rider slow.  I was captivated and had intermittent tears in my eyes throughout this touching tale, although I would have ended it differently.

 June 8, 2003

 The End