New movie Cousins follows the lives of three girls who spent time together as children in New Zealand, post World War II, and are later separated by circumstances. The film was adapted for the screen from a 1992 novel by celebrated Maori author Patricia Grace.
Marta, a shy little girl (played by Ana Scotney as a child and Tanea Heke as an adult) is taken to live in an orphanage by her father. She meets others in her family (whanau) when she is allowed to have a holiday with them – and three little girls become life-long friends.
But she has a lonely childhood and an unpleasant relationship with her legal guardian. Mental health issues lead to her becoming a homeless person wandering the streets.
Marareta (Briar Grace-Smith, who also co-directs the film) avoids an arranged marriage to become a lawyer. And Missy (Rachel House) takes on the role of guardian (kaitiaki) of the land which is being surveyed for the development of a road.
The film is made in three different eras of their lives – childhood, teenage years and in their 60s, when in a chance encounter, they find their lost connection to each other.
It moves backwards and forwards in time which is sometimes disorienting as the stories of the three women become fragmented.
There is little background information about the lives of other people in the community – and there is an analogy with the lives of our First Australians.
The actors are excellent and the photographer uses some interesting techniques and it is refreshing to see another film from our neighbours in New Zealand.
Some Maori language with English sub-titles.
Showing at Luna Leederville and Luna SX Fremantle from 10 June.
Watch the trailer…