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August 4, 2008 | by  | in Film | [ssba]

Apron Strings

Directed by Sima Urale

Apron Strings, the first feature from New Zealander Sima Urale, is a beautiful tale of two adult children, one Pakeha, the other half Indian, and their relationships with their respective mothers. Contrast is provided between the two, and between two other family characters: an aunty on one side, a sister on the other. The characters are well designed, although the peculiar weaknesses of each are a little easy to see coming.

The film is well-scripted, and paced very well. It may feel a little paint-by-numbers, but this is a family film, and the time allowed between significant events is welcome – as is the punctuation provided by the occasional joke. It’s good to see festival-goers can still laugh.

Michael (played by Nathan Whitaker, who, it should be mentioned, is a total hottie) is an interesting character. Although part of the storyline is devoted to his attempts to “find his Indian-ness”, he comes across as though he could be any other tertiary student in New Zealand. The point at which he arrives home to his chef mother’s house, Chinese takeaways in hand, made me smile.

Although Urale apparently prides herself on creating films that could be set anywhere (with a large and varied immigrant population, in this case), the film comes off as very New Zealand-specific. Which, to be honest, I thought was charming until I realised it wasn’t intentional.

The contrast between the two families is very well done. My particular favourite was the montage at the end where both families are sitting down to have tea together, one in sensible mugs, the other in dainty English china. Makes me smile.

Basically, Apron Strings is just a fun, happy movie about the difficulties in every maternal relationship. Watch it with your mum; you might learn something.

In other news, Take 3, a short by Roseanne Liang (director of Banana in a Nutshell) is genius. Hilarious suberversion of racial stereotypes for the win.


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