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:: The Orator

When was the last time you saw a film in the Samoan language? The answer has to be never because The Orator is the first film ever shot in Samoan, and while the film has been strongly backed to earn a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nomination it does seem to be lacking in some areas.

The Orator tells the story of Saili (Fiaula Sanote) a physically handicapped villager who is married to the beautiful, Vaaiga (Tausili Pushparaj). The others in the village see Saili as an easy target so his plantation is threatened, he has been denied his father’s chiefly title and now watches as Vaaiga’s teenage daughter, Litia (Salamasina Mataia) draws the attention of the local men, even those that are married. Saili realises that for the first time in his life he is going to have to fight back.

Director/screenwriter, Tusi Tamasese does a great job making this film look visually stunning, however it does seem that his script is lacking. There are some great dramatic scenes, like when Saili finally stands up to Poto (Ioata Tanielu), however they are few and far between and too often the film seems to drag. Tamasese also seems to forget that not everyone knows about Samoan culture so at times the audience may find themselves a little bit baffled to what is actually happening.

As I mentioned earlier Tusi Tamasese does capture the beauty of Samoa on the screen remarkably well (it literally makes you want to go there as soon as you can) and the one thing he doesn’t forget is how to make his characters three-dimensional. You also find yourself emotionally involved with the characters and you care a great deal about Saili and his family, it’s just a shame that the script doesn’t maintain a pace throughout it.

Tamasese also gets the best out of his actors. Fiaula Sanote, Tausili Pushparaj and Salamasina Mataia all do a great job, and when you consider that they have little to no acting experience you find yourself completely blown away from their dramatic performances. I actually wouldn’t be too surprised if Sanote didn’t sneak in for an Oscar nomination for his performance as he is already picking up awards for his performance with some of the Asia Pacific Awards floating around.

At times The Orator is brilliant but sadly it doesn’t remain that way throughout. Still it has the kind of impact that will emotionally affect some and gives you a good insight into life in a Samoan village. Worth a look, but don’t be fooled by thinking the Oscar buzz means you are about to see a masterpiece.