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