The stoic mysticism of Niki Caro's cool-handed charmer '' Whale Rider'' -- in which the young Pai must overcome resistance as she tries to assume her destiny as the leader of a tribe on the New Zealand coast -- is wickedly absorbing.
Much of the film's power comes from the delicate charisma of Keisha Castle-Hughes, making her acting debut as Pai. Castle-Hughes lacks the traditional resources of an actress, and instead communicates her feelings through a wary hesitation.
From the beginning of the movie, Pai The viewer soon learns that she has many qualities that seem to ...
Every culture has it’s own traditions and many of the times these traditions are broken when new generations are born.
Caro and her cinematographer, Leon Narbey, let the audience be seduced by the daunting power, rather than overwhelming viewers with it.
With a deft hand, the director bridges the disconnect between the modern touches in the village -- like the hilarious, cranky chatter over card games -- and the determination to cling to traditions.It is evident that tradition is the way the Whangara tribe maintains its spirituality, which defines it.The critical moment comes in a set piece that has the potential to send the film off into florid, find-your-bliss sentimentality: a whale cruises too close to the shoreline and needs to be steered back into deeper, life-sustaining waters. Caro refuses to oversaturate the film with anxious hyperdramatics.When he bothers to pay attention to her at all, it's through a sharp cutting of his eyes in her direction.Tradition dictates that the first-born grandson step into the role of chief, but Pai -- named Paikea by her father, after the tribe's ancient ancestor, who legend says arrived in the village on the back of a whale -- is all the family has.Pai's father deserted her after the death of her twin brother and mother during childbirth, driven away by his father's intense expectation that he father a son to carry on the patriarchal line.Pai grows up under the wing of her stern but loving grandfather, Karo.Pai shows all of the signs of the second coming, including leadership and affinity with the whales and martial arts.However, she is female, and her affinity must be suppressed, which serves Within Whale Rider, the characterization of Pai ultimately reveals a complex and spiritual force in the shape of a 12-year-old girl.In the movie Whale Rider, the characterization of Pai is an important component of both the movement of the story and an important insight into director Niki Caro's vision for the theme and meaning of the film.Pai's poised and gentle assurance gives the viewer with an understanding that she is truly the tribe's chosen leader, and this conflict against her grandfather's ultimately ill-fated belief that the leader cannot be a girl drives the movement of the story.