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Film Review – The Dark Horse

What began as a seemingly dark film without much to celebrate, New Zealand’s The Dark Horse quickly evolved into much, much more.

Based on a true story, the film, directed by James Napier Robertson, follows Genesis (Cliff Curtis of Whale Rider and  Blow), a middle-aged mentally ill man with a passion, or borderline obsession, with chess.

On his release from the centre in which he is treated for his condition (which remains somewhat ambiguous), he locates a chess club for troubled kids and not long after, is bravely and determinedly leading them to an international chess tournament in Auckland.

Sprinkled with the cheeky, forward humour for which kiwis are renowned, The Dark Horse is not simply a well executed story, but a thoughtful insight into the lives of people whose families do not follow a traditional structure, and whose relationships depend on the person with the power.

Troubled, but riddled with hope and, in parts, the Maori language, the film is worth seeing if what you’re seeking is something a completely out of the ordinary and brilliant.

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Alana Lowes

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