Sunday, June 13, 2021

Tribeca with Abe: The Justice of Bunny King

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections virtually from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which runs June 9th-20th.

The Justice of Bunny King
Directed by Gaysorn Thavat
Viewpoints – Screening Information

A trait that is typically shared between parents from all walks of life is a fierce defense of their children’s safety and wellbeing. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re immune from doing wrong or actually harming them, but when they see that their offspring are threatened or may be taken away from them, they will do everything possible not to lose them. In many cases, it may be too late, and even if parents and children want to be together, questionable responsibility and cyclical patterns can stand in the way of a happy ending and a chance to rewind and reset a relationship.

Bunny King (Essie Davis) has been separated from her children by family services as a result of her past actions and repeated behavior. To earn money, she cleans the windshields of cars driving by and invests considerable effort in trying to find a new place for her family to live despite constant obstacles that stop her in her tracks before she’s even walked in to look at a home. Seeing an opportunity, she realizes she must take certain steps in order to achieve the reunion she’s so desperately awaited, which also involves her niece Tonya (Thomasin McKenzie), who has a fractured relationship with her own parents that draws her to her aunt.

The title character is an instantly memorable personality, one who seeks to atone for her actions but not to apologize for who she is, determined to be in her children’s lives even and especially if she’s told by authorities when she can and cannot see them. She knows that she may not be a perfect mother but still needs to have that role for them, and each time she is restricted from doing so or replaced in some way, she becomes more intent on regaining it.

Davis’ lead performance drives this film, and it’s a fantastically layered portrayal, one that doesn’t dismiss or excuse her character flaws that make it difficult to assess whether she would in fact be a reliable guardian for her children. McKenzie, a young actress known for mature performances in films like “Leave No Trace” and “Jojo Rabbit,” is typically strong here, and the two have great onscreen chemistry. This film from feature debut director Gaysorn Thavat is set in New Zealand but could easily take place anywhere, and the poignancy of its story and its performances should be able to be felt equally by audiences from all around the world.


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