After The Waterfall
Cast: Antony Starr, Sally Stockwell, Peter McCauley, Cohen Holloway
Director: Simone Horrocks
Written and directed by Horrocks and shot entirely around Piha, After the Waterfall stars Outrageous Fortune's Antony Starr as John, a forest ranger.
John's life is one of always being there for his job and his mates, and in his wife's eyes that means he puts home life at the bottom of the rung. That's not to say he doesn't love them, however.
Things fall apart dramatically for the family when one day, under John's watchful eye out in the bush, his four-year-old daughter, Pearl, disappears.
As the search intensifies for Pearl, the cracks form in John's life; his wife leaves him and he inadvertently burns down the family home.
Cue three years later and John's still wallowing and stuck in the past - can he escape and start to live again?
This is a good film, excellently crafted by Simone Horrocks and with a great central performance of Outrageous Fortune's Antony Starr (soon to be seen on TV ONE's Sunday Theatre production Spies and Lies) - his John is completely lost and in need of redemption. It's a character that so easily could be lost to simple moping, but Starr imbues the screen with a plausible presence.
Piha makes a great backdrop to the mental state of mind of Starr - and Horrocks mines the best of the landscape to set a good vibe for the film.
However, it's slightly let down by the portrayal of the best friend who betrays John - while his character's vulnerable, Cohen Holloway's not quite as strong as he should be and it detracts from the emotional impact. The film's also a little slow in terms of pacing - but the bubbling, underlying tension helps you delve deep into the characters' psyche and, if you're patient, you are rewarded.
After the Waterfall largely succeeds because of Starr's performance and the restraint shown by Horrocks - with a soundtrack that's so sparse it's all about the acting and atmosphere; but with a tremendous performance from Starr as the damaged man, it's something a little different in the cinema.