Poppy: Uneven but endearing Kiwi drama set to debut free-to-air on TVNZ

Poppy (PG, 98mins) Directed by Linda Niccol ***

REVIEW: 19-year-old Poppy (Libby Hunsdale) is ready to take control of her own life.

She is determined to get the automotive apprenticeship her late father promised her, starting with passing her driving test.

Sure, she helps her older brother Dave (Ari Boyland) in the shop and with lovely customers, but Poppy “needs to be paid, not just pocket money,” as she tells him.

Libby Hunsdale and Ari Boyland deliver great performances in the new Kiwi Poppy movie.

Chris Moss

Libby Hunsdale and Ari Boyland deliver great performances in the new Kiwi Poppy movie.

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However, times are tough for Kāpiti-based “Simpson & Son”. There are too many “drafts” and not enough paying customers, while Dave still struggles to come to terms with the death of their parents – and his part in it. Losing his longtime girlfriend didn’t help either, and as a result, he hit the bottle — hard.

That means Poppy’s bid for independence doesn’t go well, especially when she also embarks on a relationship with Luke (Sebastian Hunter), an aspiring musician who was “nice to her in high school,” after her car got stuck on a road. Isle.

Dave fears that his NZ first dates– a loving sister may not be ready for love and worries that – like her budding attempts at driving – she might be moving too fast.

Best known as the first local film to resume filming after last year’s lockdown, this comedy-drama Kāpiti is, at its heart, a celebration of the region and its leading lady. Hunsdale delivers a terrific performance as Poppy, and the storyline helps her prove that Down Syndrome isn’t a barrier to living life to the fullest.

Poppy is a nuanced, vibrant, comedic tour de force, and it’s easy to see why she charms most of those she comes in contact with. His relationship with his protective brother is particularly impressive, a testament to both Hunsdale and the very brilliant Martin Henderson-esque Boyland. (Shortland Street, Go girls).

After a solid opening hour, Poppy loses her way and gets a little focused towards the end, as family drama gives way to burnout action.

Chris Moss

After a solid opening hour, Poppy loses her way and gets a little focused towards the end, as family drama gives way to burnout action.

However, not everything works, not all the actors reach the same heights, and writer-director Niccol’s script struggles to maintain a cohesive tone (which also spoiled her 2008 script for Occasion wedding). You can see the story occasionally shift through the gears, as it tries to shift from light comedy to more dramatic themes.

Watching this, an American audience could be forgiven for being confused as to what our AA actually does, and while there are some interesting discussions about Poppy being allowed to make decisions for herself, the The inclusion of an intimate scene seems unnecessary and might cloud the rest of the story for some.

Likewise, after a solid opening hour, the film wanders off and becomes a bit focused towards the end, as family drama gives way to burnout action.

A lack of characters also leads to a little too much artifice, though in reality it probably gives an accurate portrayal of small-town New Zealand.

With a bit of luck Poppy propels its two leads to even greater things.

Poppy will debut free-to-air at 8:30 p.m. this Monday, February 7, on TVNZ 1. It will then be available to stream on TVNZ OnDemand. A version of this article first appeared in May 2021.

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