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September 17, 2012 | by  | in Arts Film | [ssba]

Review – Two Little Boys

Perhaps I’m just a cynical, curmudgeonly reviewer, but I generally dislike New Zealand’s feeble attempts at cinematic comedy. Robert Sarkies’s Two Little Boys, however, proves to be different. Expertly playing on provincial New Zealand clichés, it proves to be an accomplished comedic piece, featuring some excellent performances and backed up by Robert Sarkies’s strong direction.

Initially you might think that Two Little Boys is about a lifelong friendship between two Invercargill boys being torn asunder by the arrival of a new mate. However, after Nige (Bret Mackenzie) accidentally kills a Norwegian backpacker he turns to his best mate Deano (Hamish Blake) to help him dispose of the body and escape from justice.

Sarkies’s direction is superb, deftly balancing black humour with poignant emotional moments. The retro small-town setting he crafts is quintessentially New Zealand, but exaggerated for maximum comedic effect, right down to the hideous 1980s mullets. Combined with a (usually) tight script and evocative cinematography, and Sarkies’s manages to imbue Two Little Boys with a palpable sense of comedic farce that’s most captivating.

Coupled with the strong direction is some excellent acting. In their first leading film roles, Hamish Blake and Bret Mackenzie provide charming, charismatic performances. Mackenzie’s childlike innocence invites sympathy from the audience, whilst Blake’s reckless abandon provides many of the thrills. They play off each other superbly, creating an imitable duo whom you can’t help but love.

That’s not to say that Two Little Boys doesn’t suffer from a few flaws. Occasionally the small- town humour feels slightly crass and Nige’s melodramatic panic attacks start to grate by the final act. However, these occasional failures can’t overrule the unique experience that the film creates. For every juvenile antic there are a myriad of moments of brilliantly executed black comedy, such as fumbling to shove the troublesome body into a drainpipe.

Two Little Boys may not be the most daring New Zealand comedy, but it certainly is one of the most accomplished. It cements Robert Sarkies’s place as one of the most dynamic filmmakers New Zealand possesses, and provides a rollicking good ride whilst doing so.


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