In suburban Mount Roskill, Auckland, mischievous matriarch Nanna Maria (Ruby Dee) summons her five grandchildren home - without her children - and demands a feast at which she will name her successor. The varied members of this Pacific/Fijian/New Zealand clan, bicker and fight as they try to fulfil Nanna Maria's wishes, which also include references to Sicilian celebrations, as told to her by her late husband who spent some time there during the war. The feast brings together the extended family - as well as a couple of friends - in a celebration of food, fun, fighting, singing, drinking ... life.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The RASKIL number plate on one of the family cars is a playful pun on the real suburb in Auckland where writer/director Toa Fraser grew up, and the spirit of larrikinism by which this group of Pacific Islanders live. And it's not just the youth whose sensibilities are driven by the basic forces of life, but elderly Nanna Maria (Ruby Dee), who misses the fights and the banter of bygone parties that were an integral part of life, and blames her children.
Nanna Maria lives at No 2, but the title also refers to her naming her successor, or Number Two, in the family hierarchy, the one who will bear the moral responsibility for their collective consciousness. The recipient is the film's major surprise.
Toa Fraser has energetically recreated the social and familial environment of Nanna Maria's family and friends, with the help of a great cast, led by the venerable and endearing Ruby Dee. The film plays with an earthy charm and it's hard to be critical of its patchy tone and its occasional lapse into sentimentality or clichéd filmmaking devices (like visual montage over music).
There are a handful of mood transitions from flippant to dramatic, but by and large these don't jar, thanks to the love of life energy that is the film's main engine. The bright and breezy mood is in fact underpinned by some genuine dramatic concepts, which helps ground the film while the characters are accessible and engaging.
Email this article
(New Zealand, 2006)
CAST: Ruby Dee, Tuva Novotny, Mia Blake, Taungaroa Emile, Xavier Horan, Miriama McDowell, Rene Naufahu, Tanea Heke, Nathaniel Lees, Pio Terei, Anthony Starr
PRODUCER: Philippa Campbell, Lydia Livingstone, Timothy White
DIRECTOR: Toa Fraser
SCRIPT: Toa Fraser (stage play by Toa Frser)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Leon Narbey
EDITOR: Chris Plummer
MUSIC: Don McGlashan
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Philip Ivey
RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista International
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 26, 2006