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‘Muru’ Is One Of The Most Important Films Screened At TIFF This Year – TIFF 2022 Review

Based on true events, Muru is a response to the unexpected armed police raid of the peaceful community of Rūātoki in New Zealand.

Cliff Curtis as “Taffy” Tāwharau in Muru.
(Courtesy of Arclight Films)

The film follows community police sergeant, “Taffy” Tāwharau (Cliff Curtis), as he protects his community and fills in as the school bus driver, all while he assists his ill elderly father. Nothing is out of the ordinary in Rūātoki until a violent police presence descends upon the town, claiming to target “domestic terrorists”—the main target? Maōri rights activist Tame Iti. Iti wants to ensure that the identity and culture of the Tūhoe people are kept alive and, as such, runs a survival skills camp that the colonial government forces see as a domestic terror cell. With no regard for human life and the truth, the government and police brutalize the people of Rūātoki.

Cliff Curtis gives a powerful performance as “Taffy” Tāwharau. Throughout Muru, viewers can continually see Taffy’s struggle between balancing his commitment to his work as a police officer and his role within the community, keeping family and friends safe at all costs. This crossroads plays an integral part of the story and shows the gamut of the human experience. Curtis puts his all into the role, and between him and his fellow actors, including Ria Maki, Roimata Fox, Manu Bennett, Poroaki Merritt-McDonald, Jay Ryan and Simone Kessell, Muru is one of the best films you’ll see at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) based on the pitch-perfect performances alone.

Tame Iti in Muru.
(Courtesy of Arclight Films)

Directed by Tearepa Kahi, Muru is a brilliant piece of filmmaking. Representing a group that has been largely silenced by the government and settler population, Kahi showcases the evils perpetrated by the government and police forces upon the people of Rūātoki. And while Muru deals with a specific incident, it should open the audience’s eyes to the bigger picture, including the fact that the events shown in Muru are not isolated incidences. Indigenous populations in New Zealand and across the world suffer from this same violence. While this film is specific to the events in Rūātoki, there will be many other Indigenous people that will relate to the subject matter.

It cannot be understated just how brilliantly Kahi crafts this emotional thriller. The film gifts the audience with so much from start to finish. The care put into telling the story in Muru is forever felt throughout the film. The movie depicts a century’s worth of horrors and puts them on full display, violence still perpetuated today. One of the most important films screened at TIFF this year, Muru, is a must-see film for everyone.

Rating: 9/10

Muru premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday, September 10.


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