There is an argument to be made that films don’t need to tell you everything; they can just show it to you and move on.
Independent movies, especially those needing deadpan-ly delivered humour, are the exception.
Director Taika Waititi’s 2007 feature film, Eagle vs Shark, is the pleasant reminder that that exception is pleasant. Even nine years on from release.
During the film’s ninety-minute runtime, director and screenwriter Waititi makes some points about individuals, chiefly that life is simpler when people just tell you how they feel (à la how Loren Horsley’s Lily openly admires what she does when everyone else does the opposite).
Depicted more often is that everyone is lonely in one way or another (akin to Lily’s isolation from her colleagues; Cohen Holloway’s Mason’s isolation from society in his parents’ home; and Jarrod’s father’s desire to escape from his family or, at a stretch, seek a different kind of loneliness).
Seen equally often on screen is that everyone comes to terms with their past, eventually (much like how Lily comes to revel in the lottery slips that got her fired; Jemaine Clement’s Jarrod faces Eric and overcomes his obsession with vengeance due to Lily and; Jarrod’s father moves on from Taika Waititi’s Gordon’s death).
With the film’s uncomplaining Lily (à la Jarrod’s ‘you don’t complain much, do you?’ line) and, retrospectively, Jarrod’s sister Rachel’s, forthrightness, the cast’s dispositions are usually easy to interpret; Lily and Rachel’s even more so.
The greatest exceptions occur when Jarrod and Mason vocally try to appear otherwise, à la Mason’s failed attempt to woo Lily and his consequent bicycle ride away shouting, ‘I was joking and you fell for it! You FELL for it!‘
Assisted by the film’s use of natural scenery and symmetrical cinematography that often boxes characters alone on-screen, a lot of its cast – with emphasis on Lily, Jarrod and Jarrod’s father – overcome their loneliness.
On that note, the camera does slowly pull-in on Lily and Jarrod’s first time alone (implying intimacy) and slowly pulls away when Jarrod breaks up with her.
That being said, nearly all of those troubled by the past – à la Lily and her lottery name slips; Jarrod and his Eric-focused desire for vengeance; and Jarrod’s father’s grief over Gordon’s death – are overcome, in Jarrod’s case violently, during the film.
Director Taika Waititi’s 2007 feature film, Eagle vs Shark, allows you to observe its cast in secluded areas, whilst dealing with social loneliness, is interesting enough to warrant rewatching it.
You might even crack what the metaphor behind the apple stop-motion scenes may be.
Director and screenwriter Taika Waititi onstage at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival (Fred Hayes/GettyImages.com Photo and Caption)
Director Waititi’s Trademarks in 2007’s Eagle vs Shark:
- Cameo appearance: Director Taika Waititi appears via photograph or video as Gordon, Jarrod’s late brother, in this film.
- Companionship-driven stories: Lily and Jarrod’s quest for friendship leads them to Jarrod and Tracey (and later Lily), respectively.
- Symmetrical cinematography: Much more so than 2016’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople, there are many shots where objects and people appear squarely in frame.
(Whilst the opinions cited above are, unless stated otherwise, the author’s own, the following sources were used for information: Collider.com, HollywoodReporter.com, IMDb.com)
The Reverse-Screenwriters’ Club (Spoilers Ensue):
Plot: a pair of socially-awkward people seek to find love and resolve past concerns.
Prologue: Lily proposes girl-friendship to herself in the mirror.
Act 1: Lily decides to wait for Jarrod in the restaurant; Lily decides to accept her manager’s decision to fire her.
Act 2: Lily decides to observe Jarrod from outside his workplace; Lily decides to take Jarrod’s order at the restaurant; Lily decides to pass on Jarrod’s animal party invitation for Jenny.
Act 3: Lily decides to go to Jarrod’s party with her brother, Damon; Lily decides to lose to Jarrod at video games.
Act 4: Lily decides to spend the night at Jarrod’s flat; Lily decides to visit Jarrod at work the next day.
Act 5: Lily decides to wait for Jarrod at the cinema; Lily decides to receive Jarrod at her home instead.
Act 6: Lily, Jarrod and Damon decide to drive down to Jarrod’s hometown; they decide to meet Jarrod’s family there.
Act 7: Lily and Jarrod decide to set up camp in the backyard; Lily and Jarrod decide to visit Mason; Lily, Jarrod and Mason decide to reconnoitre Eric’s house.
Act 8: Lily and Jarrod decide to have dinner with his family and daughter; Jarrod decides to invite his family to the fight with Eric.
Act 9: Jarrod decides to start training for his fight in the yard; Lily shows her hula-hoop routine to the attendant family.
Act 10: Lily and Jarrod decide to visit the beach; Jarrod decides to dump Lily.
Act 11: Lily decides to leave town, unsuccessfully; Jarrod decides to visit Tracy; Lily decides to go with Jarrod’s dad on a walk.
Act 12: Lily decides to spy on Jarrod’s sea-training from afar; Lily decides to have dinner with Jarrod’s family.
Act 13: Jarrod decides to move his tent closer to Lily’s sleeping bag in the yard; Jarrod eventually decides to pull his sleeping bag alongside her’s.
Act 14: Jarrod decides to follow-up his fight invitation with Eric; Jarrod convinces Eric to fight him.
Act 15: Lily decides to go to the party; Jarrod decides to observe her from a distance; Lily decides to get drunk and escapes into the woods.
Act 16: Lily decides to return to the backyard in the morning; Jarrod decides to head off for the fight; Lily decides to speak to Jarrod’s father again.
Act 17: Lily and Jarrod’s father decide to go to Jarrod’s fight; Jarrod decides to receive the paraplegic Eric.
Act 18: Jarrod decides to fight Eric anyways; Jarrod decides to flee the playground afterwards.
Act 19: Lily decides to track down the fleeing Jarrod; Lily follows him through the woods.
Act 20: Lily decides to head off to the bus station; Jarrod decides to meet her there; Lily and Jarrod decide to take the return bus together.