Movie Reviews: Cousins (2021)

Title: Cousins
Release Date: 3 March 2021
Director: Ainsley Gardiner and Briar Grace-Smith
Production Company: Miss Conception Films

This heart wrenching drama tells the story of three Māori cousins – Missy, Makareta, and Mata (also known by her English name May Parker) – over several decades from their childhood just after World War II to something close to the present day.  Mata is the main focus of the story because after her English father leaves her behind when he returns to Britain, her guardian separates her from her extended Māori family.  The movie is not told chronologically so it takes a bit of effort to piece together the story from scenes of the characters as children, young adults, and as elders.  But the actors playing the three leads at different ages do a wonderful job of capturing their characteristics across different times.  This movie is also quite beautifully filmed.  Definitely have some tissues ready, but this movie is worth the tears.

Here is the cast as best I can figure out, although I can’t find any sources that list the actors who played the roles as children.

Mata – Tanea Heke (Older), Ana Scotney (Younger)
Makareta – Briar Grace Smith (Older), Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne (Younger)
Missy – Rachel House (Older), Hariata Moriarty (Younger)

Rating: ****