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River Queen

Year: 2005
Production Co: Silverscreen Films
Director: Vincent Ward
Writer: Vincent Ward
Cast: Smantha Morton, Keifer Sutherland, Cliff Curtis, Temuera Morrison, Stephen Rea
A sumptuous and languorous account of a young Irish woman's (Morton) adventures in colonial New Zealand when the local tribes kidnap her young son, believing him one of their own.

Like The Searchers, she spends the next several years tracking the tribe upriver and into the lush heartland where she finally finds him a fully fledged Maori and finds herself identifying more with these primitive people, especially her erstwhile lover (Curtis).

It's set against the backdrop of the colonists increasing encroachment of the native lands, and the stage is set for full scale war between and among Maori tribes as beliefs and rights to land clash.

The story is less interesting than the visuals, and Ward returns home to give his homeland a beautiful but more realistic rendition than the glossy, postcard quality of Lord of the Rings.

It's heartfelt and dramatic and while not the most interesting movie, you can see the quality of both setting and performance in every frame, and it's a shame it didn't receive more attention.

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