The Orator

  • Year:2011
  • Rating:PG
  • Director:Tusi Tamasese
  • Cast:Tausili Pushparaj, Fiaula Sanote
  • Release Date:February 16, 2012
  • Distributor:Paramount
  • The Film:3.5
  • The Disc:2.0

“...watchable and even enlightening...”

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Writer/director Tusi Tamasese's New Zealand/Samoan co-production, shot on the beautiful island of Upolu and the first film ever in the Samoan language, is perhaps a little slow and meandering at times, and yet the strong, naturalistic performances and raw emotions certainly keep it compelling.

Often silent dwarf farmer Saili (an excellent Fa'afiaula Sanote) lives with his wife Vaaiga (Tausili Pushparaj) and growing-up daughter Litia (Salamasina Mataia), and all seem content enough considering that, for 17 years, Saili and Vaaiga have been banished from the village. And, all the while, a series of issues are facing the community beyond them: the old chief is giving way to an as-yet-undecided new one; threats have been made against Saili and his plantation by some of the villagers; and the ‘blossoming' Litia has been provoking others. Circumstance dictates that Saili speak up (and therefore become ‘The Orator' of the title) - but will he?

A film that could have been shortened by 20 or 30 minutes (Tamasese mistakes a little ponderousness for profundity), this is nevertheless watchable and even enlightening, with Sanote offering a truly fine, measured and moving performance, even despite rarely opening his mouth. Extra features include a short film and ‘music from The Orator'.

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