×

Magik and Rose

Vanessa Alexander's first feature film is a small scale but quite delightful female buddy pic with a small town setting and deeply felt emotions. The tale of two contrasting women who want to have babies is given disarmingly sweet treatment by the 28-year-old writer-director, resulting in a colorful, lively pic that's easy to enjoy. There could be fest slots for this, though theatrical bookings outside New Zealand may be hard to find. Still, there should be healthy ancillary for this engaging item.

With:
Magik ..... Alison Bruce Rose ..... Nicola Murphy Jackson ..... Oliver Driver Stuart ..... Simon Ferry Girl ..... Florence Hartigan

Vanessa Alexander’s first feature film is a small scale but quite delightful female buddy pic with a small town setting and deeply felt emotions. The tale of two contrasting women who want to have babies is given disarmingly sweet treatment by the 28-year-old writer-director, resulting in a colorful, lively pic that’s easy to enjoy. There could be fest slots for this, though theatrical bookings outside New Zealand may be hard to find. Still, there should be healthy ancillary for this engaging item.

The setting is the town of Hokitika on the west coast of New Zealand’s spectacular South Island. In this little community where everybody knows everybody else, Rose (Nicola Murphy), who works in the chemist’s shop, is self-conscious about her apparent inability to get pregnant by Stuart (Simon Ferry), the husband she adores.

Paradoxically, Stuart works on an artificial insemination program with cattle. He’s beginning to talk about adoption, something Rose instinctively rejects.

Enter Magik (Alison Bruce), who drives into town in her colorfully painted trailer. She’s a fortuneteller who dresses extravagantly and seems to be very much in charge of her own destiny.

She and Rose become close friends, because Magik, too, would like to get pregnant before it’s too late (she’s 35), and she’s even willing to take the scandalous step of advertising in the local paper for a man to supply the sperm she needs — an action that leads to a very funny scene in which potential candidates are auditioned.

But Magik has a secret: Like the Judy Davis character in Gillian Armstrong’s similarly located film, “High Tide,” she gave birth to a daughter years ago and abandoned her; the girl (Florence Hartigan) was adopted locally, and when she meets her birth mother for the first time, in a well-played scene, she is instantly hostile.

One of the flaws in Alexander’s generally good screenplay is that the background of this unnamed girl remains undefined; it would have been nice to know more about the mature, opinionated 16-year-old.

Simple story unfolds against the background of the town’s food and music festival, and the soundtrack is bursting with country songs, mostly performed by the Coalrangers. The beautiful setting is attractively photographed by Fred Renata, and Simonde Norden has fun with the design of Magik’s out-there costumes (there’s a nice scene in which the two women swap outfits).

Bruce is good as the world-weary Magik, while Murphy is appealing as the lively but increasingly frustrated Rose. Despite the film’s small budget, it looks and sounds fine in every department.

Popular on Variety

Magik and Rose

(NEW ZEALAND)

Production: A Kahukura Prods. production in association with New Zealand Film Commission. (International sales: New Zealand Film Commission, Wellington.) Produced by Larry Parr. Directed, written by Vanessa Alexander.

Crew: Camera (color), Fred Renata; editor, Eric de Beus; music, Victoria Kelly; production designer, Simon Harper; costume designer, Simonde Norden; sound (Dolby digital), John McKay; assistant director, Robyn Murphy. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 15, 2000. Running time: 92 MIN.

With: Magik ..... Alison Bruce Rose ..... Nicola Murphy Jackson ..... Oliver Driver Stuart ..... Simon Ferry Girl ..... Florence Hartigan

More Film

  • Rita And Tom Hanks Coronavirus

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson Return to U.S. After Coronavirus Diagnosis in Australia

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are back home in the U.S. after they revealed they had contracted coronavirus and were quarantined in Australia. Hanks gave an update on Twitter Saturday morning, thanking everyone who had helped them in Australia and assuring people that they are still isolating themselves in the U.S. “Hey, folks…We’re home now [...]

  • Film Comment Magazine Goes on Hiatus

    Film Comment Magazine to Go on Hiatus as Film at Lincoln Center Lays Off Half of Staff

    Many companies are being financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and the Film at Lincoln Center is the latest organization to have to lay off employees and pause some of their operations. On Friday, executive director Lesli Klainberg released a memo announcing that the center had to furlough or lay off about half of its [...]

  • "Birds of Prey" egg sandwich

    'Birds of Prey' Actor Bruno Oliver Recreates Harley Quinn's Famous Sandwich

    When actor Bruno Oliver booked the role of short order cook Sal in “Birds of Prey: (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn),” he had no idea how significant Sal and his breakfast sandwich were to the story. “You couldn’t tell from the audition necessarily and as actors, we always worry about our scenes [...]

  • Minyan

    'Minyan': Film Review

    Best known for the unexpectedly soul-shattering San Francisco suicide doc “The Bridge,” indie filmmaker Eric Steel came out and came of age in 1980s New York at a moment just before AIDS devastated the city’s gay community. Such timing must have been surreal, to assume something so liberating about one’s own identity, only to watch [...]

  • Animated Movie 'The Queen's Corgi' Fetches

    Film New Roundup: Animated Movie 'The Queen's Corgi' Fetches North American Distribution

    In today’s film news roundup, “The Queen’s Corgi” finds a home, the Overlook Film Festival is postponed and the California Film Commission adjusts its tax credit rules due to the coronavirus. ACQUISITION Freestyle Digital Media has acquired North American rights to the animated family comedy feature “The Queen’s Corgi,” and plans to make it available on DVD and to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content