Film Review by Wal Reid
Charlotte Lockton, a wealthy, upper class, English immigrant, chooses to forgo all of her home luxuries to find her kidnapped baby son. She navigates her way through the unruly and wild world of the gold rush in 1860’s New Zealand, finding unlikely friendship amongst the hustlers, whores, Maori Warriors and Chinese Miners. But in the end, she must face the man who took the boy – and become the woman she never thought she’d be.
Producer/writer and star of the film, Emily Corcoran’s The Stolen had me at ‘Kiwi period film’ and of course with its lavish list of Hollywood actors plus our own Stan Walker (Maori tracker) & Thor star Cohen Holloway, it was a local yarn that was too good an opportunity to pass up.
Directed by Niall Johnson (White Noise) its a gritty tale about a mother’s hope as she sets off to find her kidnapped baby son, set against the harsh backdrop of colonial Aotearoa, aka New Zealand during the Gold Rush days – with no sealed roads and the rampant lawlessness prevalent in those days, this was easier said than done.
While this may be an ambitious tale to bring to the big screen, its not without its own technical niggles.
The movie sports a strong and wonderfully female cast, with English actress, Star Trek’s Alice Eve (Charlotte Lockton) playing the role as the distressed mum to a tee. Her emotional continuity & onscreen maternal strength should be lauded, however, the film did occasionally wane from its plot and technically felt stilted here & there, but continued to hold my attention to the end.
Was it just me or did the sight of singer Stan Walker seem out of place? Quibbles aside, I did enjoy the film, but Stan Walker in the role of Matai the Maori tracker made me chagrin more than a few times, he wasn’t bad by any stretch, but possibly another face could’ve made it more palatable for me.
A few references of the giant “Weta” bug and women protesting the right to vote in this country were nice touches, and Stan’s song at the end was a fitting finale to an otherwise solid Kiwi Spaghetti Western. International stars Outlander’s Graham McTavish, Pirates Jack Davenport & the stunning Gillian MacGregor were solid in their roles, and the Kiwi’s didn’t disappoint either – Thor’s Cohen Holloway, Rocky Horror’s Richard O’Brien & Kiwi/American Mikaela Rüegg the pick of the bunch.
Eve’s emotional continuity & onscreen maternal strength should be lauded, however, the film did occasionally wane from its plot and technically felt stilted here & there, but continued to hold my attention to the end.
If you like your period dramas with bite and grit with a local flavour, then The Stolen will be up your alley, however, like I say, it’s not without its nuances and niggles and just finds its mark – Saying that though, as a film, I enjoyed it more than the Michael Fassbender Western shot here Slow West.
Releases: 23rd November 2017
Rating: M – Contains Violence, sexual references & offensive language
Duration: 95 minutes
Starring: Alice Eve, Graham McTavish, Jack Davenport
Director: Niall Johnson (Films)