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River Queen

2007-12-10 12:18
What it's about:

Sarah O'Brien (Samantha Morton) is the daughter of surgeon who tends to the colonising British forces in New Zealand. She has a child with a Maori teenager, who dies of illness. Her son is kidnapped by his grandfather and she spends years searching for him, only to learn he is part of a tribe determined to fight off the British. She is torn between her loyalty to her son and the soldiers she nurses, while the bloody conflict intensifies around her.

What we thought of it:

It's criminal that this film has flown so far under the radar that very few people in this country will even know it's showing. Praised in its native New Zealand, River Queen is the sort of sweeping historical epic that should impress most people through its sheer quality, while remaining relatively cheese free. As an added bonus, the intriguing plot is based on fact.

The first striking thing about River Queen is that it's beautiful. Shot entirely in overgrown mountainous parts of New Zealand connected by rivers, it transports you to an exotic yet hostile landscape, whether you are rowing down a misty river or perched in a tree waiting to ambush enemy forces. With authentic costumes and decent acting the violence and harsh lives of the soldiers and the oppressed tribes are brought to vivid life.

Heading the cast is Samantha Morton, who does a fantastic job as Sarah O'Brien, caught between sides in a violent war while trying to lead her own life and care for her only child. She brings the emotional draw to a film, which could have been nothing but eye candy. The relationship between Sarah, Doyle (Kiefer Sutherland, sporting a downright believable Irish accent) and Wiremu (Cliff Curtis), her son's uncle, form the core of the story and gives the film its heart. It provides something for fans of tear jerking romances, without ever becoming too sentimental.

It might be dismissed as sappy by people who are looking for something gritty, but it doesn't shy away from showing the brutality of that period. An excellently made film with a compelling story, River Queen will be one of those films you either love or hate.

- Ivan Sadler
A young Irish nurse working for colonial British forces in 1860s New Zealand searches for her half-Maori son when he is taken by his grandfather. Years later she finds him fighting against the colonists, and must choose between her family and her culture.

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Elsabie 2007-11-26 06:36 AM
Comment on 'River Queen' I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Not a chick flick or soppy romance, just brilliant acting and you are left with wanting more.

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