The Rehearsal

The Rehearsal

(2016)

New Zealand feature based on the debut novel by Eleanor Catton and starring James Rolleston (The Dark Horse) as a wide-eyed teenager looking to make it as a stage actor.... More

"Stanley (Rolleston) is a naive newcomer drawn to the city by his passion to make it on stage. While his new best friends indulge in wilder stuff, gentle Stanley tentatively romances 15-year-old Isolde (Ella Edward). His sweet dreams may have found their nemesis in Hannah (Kerry Fox), the school’s grandstanding senior tutor. Students must deconstruct themselves, she contends, before they can play at being anybody else.

"Stanley gradually bends to her taunting style, until, in one of the dazzling turns that stud the film, he earns her applause with a hilarious, treacherously accurate impersonation of his salesman father. Even murkier waters await when his class decides that a sex scandal involving Isolde’s older sister (Alice Englert) should be intensively researched for their end-of-year show." (New Zealand International Film Festival)Hide

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Flicks Review

The Rehearsal is a dramatic coming-of-age tale with solid direction from Alison Maclean, who co-wrote the screenplay with author Emily Perkins. It’s adapted from the debut novel by Eleanor Catton, who gets a brief cameo, as does a copy of her Booker-prize-winning tome, ‘The Luminaries’.... More

Dealing with some serious issues and sexual shenanigans, it’s entertaining, well-crafted, and provides plenty of intellectual engagement in the moral quagmire it presents, but never quite connects on an emotional level.

The acting is great, with James Rolleston, Ella Edward and the rest of the ensemble cast shining bright. It’s decidedly awkward watching young actors play first-year drama students going through their paces as they’re trained to “emote” by Kerry Fox’s unforgiving acting coach - especially so when Rolleston’s character, Stanley, chooses to use the scandalous secrets of his girlfriend’s family as the basis for an end-of-year stage show at their elite, fictional, Auckland drama school.

As Catton wrote in her original: “The stage is a place where we can witness things in such a way that it becomes unnecessary for us to feel or perform these things ourselves.” But to feel for fictional characters, we do need to connect emotionally, and, despite a solid central story, perhaps the screenplay jettisons too much of the source material to succeed completely. Nonetheless, The Rehearsal remains a well-made and superbly performed tale. It may not be dazzling, but it is an engaging drama that deserves to be seen on the big screen.Hide


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  • ...overall, The Rehearsal is a triumph with stellar performances that make it a must-see for fans of New Zealand cinema. Full Review

  • Edward's startling authenticity and composure as Isolde means it's hard to take your eyes off her, while Michelle Ny, Alice Englert, singer Marlon Williams and Rachel Roberts make their mark. Full Review

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