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Eagles, sharks, and 'Dynamite'

Posted at 3:12 PM on July 6, 2007 by Euan Kerr

I saw "Eagle Vs Shark" a couple of months back at MSPIFF, and have to admit it has stuck with me. It's a strange, vaguely comedic, film about a love affair between frankly unlikable misfits in New Zealand, Lili and Jarrod.

Lili, a dim bulb with self-esteem problems, falls for Jarrod, an egotistical and deluded young man who is obsessed with getting revenge on an old rival. He throws a costume party where people have to come dressed as their favorite animal, and where Jarrod gets to humiliate everyone on his favorite

Jerrod ignores Lili until he realises she's the best option he's got in terms of the opposite sex.

He begins using her none-to-subtly, including to get a ride back to his hometown to complete his revenge.

Along the way they meet a lot of people who all have their own quirks and foibles, which they handle with differing amounts of grace.

There are immediate parallels to be drawn here with "Napoleon Dynamite" (a fact noted by "Dynamite" producer Sean Covel who used "Eagle vs Shark" as part his recent class at MCAD.)

But there is an important difference: director Taika Waititi tells much of the story from Lili's point of view. This gives "Eagle vs Shark" a little more emotion and humanity than "Dynamite."

It also makes it a sadder film in the end.

There is a happy ending in the Hollywood sense, but there is a bleak reality laid bare by Lili's story, which adds depth to this absurdist comedy.

July 2007
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