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Mt Zion: Movie Review

By Darren Bevan

Published: 3:39PM Monday February 04, 2013

Rating:

Cast: Stan Walker, Temuera Morrison, David Wikaira-Paul, Darcey-Ray Flavell-Hudson, Miriama Smith, Troy Kingi, Will Hall
Director: Tearepa Kahi

It's to 1979 New Zealand we go for this new local film opening on Waitangi Day, marking the debut acting performance of Australian Idol winner Stan Walker.

Walker is Turei, a potato picker on the spud grounds of Pukekohe; his father (a restrained and commanding Temuera Morrison) runs the roost. A talented musician, Turei, dreams of getting away from the lands and pursuing his lifelong hope of making it on the stage.

That chance comes along with the opportunity for Turei and his band-mates (including Ghost Chips) to win a spot to open for Bob Marley who's due into Western Springs for a concert.

However, in pushing those around him to help, Turei's put on a direct collision course with his father.

Mt Zion has an engaging earnestness to its honesty and integrity as the sweet family story plays out.

Sure, it's a little rough around the edges and occasionally slightly slow in places, but it has a heart and intimate focus which is hard to deny or not be swept along with. From time to time, Walker lacks some of the acting chops needed of him to give a bit of depth to his character, but an understated Temuera Morrison more than makes up for it. But, that said, it's an assured debut from Walker and when he belts out a song or two, it's hard not to get caught up in the moment.

There's a nostalgic vibe to this flick and director Kahi has managed to brilliantly recreate the intimacy of home and community life in amongst the squabbles over land issues and the inevitable conflicts between father and son as Turei starts to grow up. Kahi's also to be commended for taking the script, which could have lapsed into something predictable, and fashioning something which has a real sentimental and touching centre, without over-romanticising the era.

With a blistering OST and vibe, Mt Zion is a gentle little Kiwi film which impresses more than you'd expect thanks to tenderness and intimacy.