In New Zealand LGBTQ+ drama, Rūrangi, trans man Caz Davis returns to his home town for the first time in years, after previously walking away to start a new life. Upon arrival, he reconnects with his best friend Anahera, who he hasn’t seen for a decade, and meets up with ex-boyfriend Jem, who he was once very close to.
But Caz’s main aim for this road trip is to speak to his estranged father. Caz is keen to see if he can rebuild his relationship with his dad, but understands the situation won’t be easy.
Upon meeting up with Caz, his father Gerald is conflicted – and not just because he finds it difficult to see his former daughter as a son, but because Gerald harbours some pent-up anger towards Caz. In the years since Caz left, his mother passed away, and he did not come home for the funeral – something Gerald feels very hurt by.
Over the course of the next few days, Caz spends time trying to reconnect with his former friends and family. But will this trip home be a positive step forward, or was it a mistake to go back?
Directed by Max Currie, and starring Elz Carrad, Kirk Torrance, Arlo Green, and Awhina-Rose Ashby, Rūrangi is a powerful and thought-provoking movie. It is a film which looks at the trans journey from the perspective of those who transition, as well as those who are connected to the individual.
The film centres itself around Caz and explores his experiences as someone who struggled in his early years, found a path which suited him much better in later life, but who still has a longing to reconnect with his once nearest and dearest. The story makes it clear this isn’t something which is easy to do, but by the same token it is something which is achievable.
At the heart of the film is a desire to showcase change and understanding. All experiences are different, and Caz’s journey is just one story, but it is about taking the steps forward, even if the road is rocky along the way.
What I really like about Rūrangi is that this film is not just about Caz’s story, there is a much greater depth to the narrative. The film touches upon aspects of identity for multiple characters too, including Anahera’s efforts to reconnect with her Māori heritage, and Jem’s uncertainty over his own sexual identity.
And then surrounding all of this is a subplot involving Caz’s father and his desire to get a bill passed with the local council. The issue seems like a throwaway plotline at first, but it is another thread which brings the characters together.
This story beat also provides the movie with one of its most important moments, and a key step for Caz in his journey for acceptance. The moment – which I won’t spoil here – takes place toward the very end of the film, but demonstrates the progress that Caz has made since returning to his home town.
Touching, thoughtful, complex, and emotional, Rūrangi is an excellent movie. It is a film which isn’t afraid to allow multiple conversations to take place all at once, with every story being as valid as the next.
If you wish to check out Rūrangi, the movie is available to watch in select UK cinemas from February 25th and will also be made available to stream on demand from all good digital platforms, including Peccadillo Pictures.
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