Appreciating Taika Waititi’s Mastery of Bittersweet Escapism

Wilderpeople Ricky
By  · Published on November 9th, 2017

The director’s had a hell of a few years.

Writer/director Taika Waititi has one of the most distinct styles of any indie filmmaker working today. Another unique element of his filmmaking is that, with Thor: Ragnarok, he’s been able to maintain his nitpicking comic flavor in a film made to fit into a gigantic corporate structure and fulfill all the trappings of superhero cinema.

Waititi, in Eagle vs. Shark, Boy, and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, combines tragic circumstances with absurd comedy to find a poignancy based around the escapism of imagination. Adventure – to somewhere far away, though never far enough to escape the New Zealand knack for understated silliness – is built into all his narratives because this world is oftentimes not enough.

Essayist Affrica Handley highlights these features, focused mainly on the meeting point of and balance between funny “ha-ha” and funny “oh, yikes” that makes Waititi such an engaging directorial presence.

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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).