Amanda (dangergirljones) wrote me a few days ago and wanted to go see The Whale Rider. She's mrsloane's sister. Growing up, I mostly hung around with Jason. But our families have always been close. My parent's are Amanda's godparents, and her parents were my brother Matt's godparents. But she and I haven't ever spent a hell of a lot of time hanging out, though I think she's a smart and funny cookie.
Hence, the movie. And it turned out to be a very good movie. Here's the plot. Tribal elder is looking for the new tribal chief, only the designated heir, his firstborn son refuses to take the mantle. His firstborn son who should be chief instead, dies in childbirth. Alas, there will be no more sons in the chief's lineage. So the elder undertakes to train all the firstborn sons of the tribe to see who will start the new line of chiefs. He excludes his granddaughter who is more dedicated to the tribal ways than any of the other sons, caught up in the modern world and wishing to leave the town for the wide world outside. He is stubborn. But everyone eventually learns more about themselves.
The story is one you've heard before. The film is beautiful without resorting to endless shots of New Zealand's famous landscape. Sure, they use it, but not the green mountainsides. It's a much more personal view. The people seem both backward and photogenic. All the actors play their roles extremely well. The elder manages to be both loving of his granddaughter and stubbornly dismissive of her as well. For an 11 year old actress, the star shines brightly. No mugging for the camera. She is able to be still and stoic, as well as display the disappointment of a child when the grandfather does not come to her school concert, where she is awarded a trophy for a speech she gave honoring him.
And on top of it all, my cousin was at the showing. I never really got to see her much as her family lives in Olympia. She's been going to law school on the east coast but is staying for a while in Seattle while she studies to pass the bar. Once that happens she's off to Atlanta to work for the C.D.C. Though just what she's going to be doing I don't yet know. I gave her my card so she can call or email me while she is in town. And her cousin was also with her (my uncle's cousin, actually), and it turns out he works with Amanda on occasion. Sometimes, Seattle is a smaller town than we expect.