Uproar | TIFF 2023 | Review by: Stefano Bove
In 1981, the South African National Rugby team was touring in New Zealand around the time that the country passed a bill that decriminalized racism. New Zealanders stood up and protested against the games pushing a massive debate between sports and politics in the country. While this battle for national identity rages on, a young 17 year old boy, Josh Waaka (Julian Dennison) is also going through his own identity crisis and struggles to figure out what his place is in the world.
Josh is struggling with identity on two fronts: his interest in theatre is getting in the way of him playing Rugby and with the protesting happening across the country, he is torn between playing for the team or standing strong with his fellow New Zealanders in protest.
Julian Dennison has been a favorite of mine since Hunt For The Wilderpeople. His charisma, and very particular style of comedy is something that I always look forward to watching but I am happy to see him continue to hone his craft as he gets older. This script allows him to stay true to himself and his heritage while pushing his acting into territories he has yet to explore.
The film balances comedy and drama well as the main story focuses on racial issues that have always been a problem with outsiders and native New Zealanders. At first, I thought the story could have possibly benefited on focusing just on rugby as opposed to tugging and pulling Josh from acting and playing rugby but the multiple storylines paid off in the end.
Rugby is such a huge sport in New Zealand so ultimately, Josh undergoes a massive amount of peer pressure to be involved with the sport whether he wanted to or not. Josh’s desire to fit in and be liked pushes him to spread himself too thin as many of us do to satisfy other peoples needs. Uproar is a wonderful coming of age film that everyone can connect to and deals with many social issues that everyone has to confront at some point in their lives.
Review by: Stefano Bove