Dark tale of lust and revenge Kiwi as it gets

FOR GOOD written and directed by Stuart McKenzie (R16) ****
Sam Edwards, Waikato Times, Saturday March 6, 2004

This small addition to the range of New Zealand films is more significant than a passing viewer may realize.

It is not one of the international blockbusters made in New Zealand. Films like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Last Samurai, are really international features, despite their obvious Kiwi sources and references.

For Good, however, has a truly New Zealand sensibility. The ideas, the tensions, the characters, have the universal applications of all first rate films, but the texture is as New Zealand as the Kiwi journalism which provides the dramatic thrust for McKenzie's dark tale of lust and revenge.

For the first time, there is a Kiwi script that is so sophisticated and assured as any from a leading studio. New Zealand cinema has suffered from its inception from flawed screenplays, especially dialogue which lacks the rhythms and complexities of believable speech and yet here is a story where the audience is never flicked out of the fantasy by jarring rhythms or clattering clichés, or by the stuttering delivery which stems directly from poor writing.

Here is a film that would stand up on any screen, a film in which no one can evince the cultural cringe which accompanies so much Kiwi cinema criticism, a film so naturally self-assured and unselfconscious that audiences are never aware of the film making process, and that is very much a Kiwi first.

Spare, often minimalist cinematography, lighting which focuses ideas as much as it establishes mood, editing which takes the viewer into the heart of the film, and images which are as often surreally bizarre as others are convincingly real, allow the story to spill into the mind of the viewer.

A young, attractive wannabe investigative reporter succeeds in obtaining a series of interviews with a convicted rapist and killer, and the story is driven by her interactions with the killer, played with unpleasantly attractive sympathy by Tim Balme, and the family of the girl he murdered.

Despite the extraordinary subject matter, the characters are as ordinary as the next-door neighbour, as believable as close relatives, and as Kiwi as fish and chips, and that combination makes for an engagingly entertaining and surprisingly absorbing piece of universal Kiwiana.

Back to For Good Press page