26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
A beautiful film,
This review is from: Whale Rider [DVD]  (DVD)
Whale Rider is a rare and wonderful film. It is set in a small seaside Maori village in New Zealand and concerns the chief, who has no first-born grandson to carry on the old ways. He does have a loveable and plucky granddaughter, Pai, named for the legendary founder of the Maoris who came there on the back of a whale. Pai adores her grandfather, but he has forbidden her to study the old ways because she is a girl.
This is one of those movies that draws you into its world completely with its honesty. The 12-year old star, Keisha Castle-Hughes is so genuine and charismatic, it is no wonder she has been nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. She is a natural talent, beautiful, inspiring, and delightful to watch.
Whale Rider has the art-house feel to it, because it deals almost exclusively with emotions. Village life and underwater scenes of whales are lovingly photographed and accompanied by a haunting score. There is a lot of Maori culture in it, but the desire for acceptance and respect are universally understood. If you like character-driven stories with heartwarming elements of the supernatural, you'll enjoy Whale Rider.