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River Queen


Stars: Samantha Morton, Cliff Curtis, Kiefer Sutherland, Stephen Rea, Temuera Morrison

Director: Vincent Ward

A great-looking but slow-moving historical epic set in 1860s New Zealand, when the Maoris took arms against British soldiers.

Sarah (Morton) grows up with her father (Rea) on a frontier garrison where she gives birth to a son by a young Maori who's subsequently killed. Seven years later, the boy is kidnapped by his Maori grandfather, and Sarah spends the next seven years looking for him.

Summoned to nurse a Maori chief (Morrison) through a bout of flu, Sarah finally locates her son, and becomes attracted to his uncle (Curtis) - just in time for all-out warfare to erupt.

Good action sequences and amazing New Zealand scenery mingle with other scenes that are held too long and acting that rarely rises above the mediocre. Kiefer Sutherland is also in this, but 24 fans shouldn't rush along: his part, like his Irish accent, barely exists.

David Quinlan

New Zealand/UK 2005. UK Distributor: The Works. Colour by Kodak.
114 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 09 Feb 2008