TIFF 2022: Muru Film Review



TIFF Contemporary World Section

Reviewed for Shockya.com by Abe Friedtanzer

Director: Tearepa Kahi

Writer: Tearepa Kahi, Jason Nathan

Cast: Cliff Curtis, Jay Ryan, Manu Bennett, Tame Iti, Simone Kessell, Roimata Fox, Ria Te Uira Paki, Poroaki Merritt-McDonald

Screening on: Critics’ link, CA, 09/01/22

Opening: September 10e2022 (Toronto International Film Festival)

The first titles of Muru let it be clear that this is a response, not a reenactment, of a deadly government raid on a Maori group branded and targeted as terrorists. While this story is deeply personal and meaningful to the Maori people of New Zealand, it also has strong resonance for a colonial misunderstanding of other cultures. Most powerfully, through its protagonist, Taffy, it presents a vision of what an unfunded police force could and should look like. Taffy spends as much time each day driving children and adults on the local bus as she does any actual police work, and in every situation his focus is not on arrest or punishment, but rather on finding a productive solution that can help offenders stay on track. It’s a surprisingly simple concept that would unfortunately be difficult to implement given that Taffy is seen by the government as colluding with the suspected terror cell rather than a member of the community seeking to preserve and improve it. as only an insider really can.

But this film is no fantasy, and as a result, it depicts the rush of quick, decisive action rather than a carefully calculated approach. This, mixed with a reluctance to admit mistakes, is a brutal and irreversible combination, with horrific consequences for the target population and little impact on the “shoot first, ask questions later” tactic that inevitably leads to shooting. on an innocent after just a few questions. could have prevented all this.

Among the most effective elements of Muru is the central performance of Cliff Curtis. Taffy has fallen into a certain routine, a routine that has him anticipating the mundane delays in his day and insisting on checking in on his father regularly, even if it means walking a substantial distance to interrupt his other responsibilities. His exposure to government surveillance prompts him to reach out and express his displeasure at not being told about an operation within his community, but he also makes the crucial mistake of believing he is seen as at the same level. His assessment of cooperating with these authorities to prevent an escalation of the situation is complex and time-consuming, and Curtis carries that in his portrayal. His growing dismay at the destructive turn of events is also conveyed with passion.

Muru is many different things all at once, bringing this unfortunate story of the persecution of an indigenous population to the screen while exploring those who perpetrated it. As is often the case, many are seemingly good people just doing their job, but the emergence of their consciousness comes tragically too late to have any felt impact. The person in charge of authorizing impulsive missions and changes sits behind a computer screen and is more concerned with covering up at all times than exploring the most peaceful resolution for all. Blatantly, it’s an infantryman’s sudden turn to violence that turns things around, but his behavior is somehow excused even though he showed far less control and caused far more damage than the supposed threat never did.

Muru is an essential cautionary tale, which emphasizes the need to appreciate all communities and all cultural and religious groups for who they are rather than trying to analyze or change them. This is not an isolated power dynamic, and attempts to preserve an age-old way of life are not automatically regressive and dangerous. Muru pays a heartfelt tribute to the leaders of his community and even his less stable members, since no one should be seen as troublesome or in need of rehabilitation because of where he grew up and the people he is with ‘associated. It’s a vital and impactful film with a resonant message for all audiences.

104 minutes

History – B+

Interim -A-

Technical – B+

Overall – B+

(L-R): Taffy (Cliff Curtis) confronts Stg Renata (Xavier Horan) in ‘Muru’ 2022 Jawbone Pictures, Wheke Group Limited. Photo Christophe Pryor

Comments are closed.