Review by a Foster Carer
Whether you are a foster carer, foster kid, interested in fostering or just want to watch a good movie, then let me recommend a film to you called “Hunt for the Wilderpeople.” This film, set in New Zealand, starring Sam Neill and Rhys Darby, is an adaptation of Barry Crump’s 1986 novel Wild Pork And Watercress. It tells the story of Ricky Baker, a kid in foster care. Having had a number of placement breakdowns, the story begins with Ricky’s new placement. He moves far away from the city he has always known, to a farm in the rural countryside of New Zealand. His social worker takes him to his new foster home to meet his new foster carers Aunty Bella and the reluctant Uncle Hec. Ricky, having been brought up on Hip Hop, restyles himself as a gangster. Yet just beneath the surface, like for many looked after children, it is not hard to see the vulnerability and feelings of abandonment.
At first he is reluctant to stay in his new foster home, but loving foster carer Aunty Bella welcomes Ricky to his new placement, and he begins to settle and warm to her care. Meanwhile Uncle Hec, her crotchety husband, is less than keen on the situation. It is not long when tragedy strikes and the foster placement is yet again threatened for Ricky. It is here that sympathy truly ensues for Ricky who will again face another move when his Social Worker arrives to end the placement. Understandably, Ricky doesn’t want to leave the home that he has now come to appreciate. This is reminiscent of so many fostering stories where placements breakdown and children are yet again moved, expected to ‘up-sticks’ and start again.
The story takes an unexpected turn as Ricky and Hec find themselves on the run from both the Social Services and the Police. Gradually they find friendship as they overcome their differences, working together to survive through adversity whilst living in the wild. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a smart, funny and poignant film, unlike anything else I have ever seen before. Whilst set in the wild beautiful countryside of New Zealand, it is the interaction between Ricky and Hec that draws you in.
At times, this film will move you to shed a tear, and in the next breath you will laugh like you haven’t done in ages! It is genuinely poignant – not just about the life of Ricky as a foster kid, but also the relationship between him and his foster carer Hec. As a foster carer, I couldn’t help put myself in the shoes of Bella and Hec. It was a good reminder of what we are doing as foster carers and the difference in a kids life that can be made. As I watched I became aware that, just like in real life, we care for the characters, believe in the predicaments they are in and we want things to turn out all right for them.
With a 5 Stars from Empire and a Rotten Tomatoes score of 97%, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a must see. Available now on DVD or to view on Netflix or Amazon Prime.