Hunting for the Wilderpeople / The Innocents

Saturday’s double-feature at the Nick was the delightful New Zealand film “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” starring Sam Neill and the juvenile actor Julian Dennison, in a semi-farcical, adventure tale of a grumpy backwoodsman who becomes the reluctant guardian of a ward of the state who passionately wants to be “gangsta,” and “The Innocents,” a haunting film set in post-WWII Poland. In “The Innocents,” a French Red Cross worker (Lou de Laage) responds to pleas for help from a young Benedictine novice and discovers several nuns in the nearby convent pregnant, the result of assaults by German and Russian soldiers during the war. Both films are quite beautiful and tremendously affecting in distinctly different ways. The lush, mountainous bush of New Zealand is nearly a character in the often tender and heartwarming Hunt, and the snow-blanketed terrain surrounding the convent in Innocents is just as important in communicating isolation without disconnection, as both films portray, quite vividly, the human capacity for courageous compassion.

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