Boy ★★★★

Taika Waititi hasn't quite found a voice yet: a lot of the visual style and joke structure feels of a piece with all the other post-Wes Anderson comic indies of the 2000s. The mid-credits scene, in particular, feels like the filmmakers knew they wanted it because it would be funny and energetic, but hadn't actually thought about how it was going to work in the context of the rest of the film (the post-credits scene, on the other hand, is perfect). Still, caveats aside, there's a lot to adore: the shift between quirky and deadpan humor is strong enough already, and then the influx of genuinely wounded melancholy in the second half cuts against the humor to striking effect. Waititi also gets a tremendous performance out of his first-time lead James Rolleston, bittersweet and earnest without going for banal sentiment. Feels, in retrospect, like a dry run for things that would be done much better in Hunt for the Wilderpeople, but it's really lovely on its own terms, and it's a huge step in the right direction after the director's too-acerbic debut, Eagle vs Shark.