UPROAR – A Review by John Strange

1981 New Zealand.  Rugby is king.  Everyone feels that there is no tension between the races.  And then the South African Rugby team tours the country.  Protests sprout like weeds.  Racial tensions are roused.

Josh Waaka (Julian Dennison) is a 17-year-old Māori student in an academy that has primarily white students.  He is constantly picked on by other students.

His older brother, Jamie (James Rolleston), was a rugby star at the school.  Access to his talent is what the school seems to use as the reason why the younger Waaka is allowed to attend the school on a scholarship basis.  His mother, Shirley (Minnie Driver), works as a custodian, cleaning the school at night to help support herself and the boys.

With the protests surrounding the rugby matches as a background, Josh slowly begins to face his heritage.  The most telling moment to me was when he spoke of others as Māori and was corrected to include himself in the statement.

Watching the young man as he awakens to not only his heritage, his very soul, but also to finding his talent, maybe his purpose in life, made this film a delight to watch.  Seeing the quiet effect he has upon his family and friends as the story progresses is what I look for in films like this.

The film’s directors Paul Middleditch and Hamish Bennett (one of the writers as well) have a good handle on this subject matter.  The subject is a touchy one in any region of our globe, but they treat it fairly and with a respect that I found to be refreshing.

Uproar is a film that may not be for everyone, but I give it 5 stars for the rest of us!

Director: Paul Middleditch, Hamish Bennett

Cast: Julian Dennison, Minnie Driver, Rhys Darby, Erana James, James Rolleston

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Selig Rating: 5 Stars

Runtime: 110 Min.

Release Date: 03/15/2024

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Aboriginal + Indigenous

Language: English

Movie Site: UPROAR Official Site

Trailer: UPROAR Official Trailer

Full review here