TIFF 2023: UPROAR Is A Heartwarming And Heartbreaking Story About Not Fitting In

Uproar review Dennison.

Coming-of-age teen dramas are exceptional when done right. Uproar takes that genre and adds some very specific elements about the New Zealand indigenous culture of the Maori into its story. How a teenage Maori boy comes to terms with his identity and talent and how to reconcile those elements with the difficulty of his home life. Check out my Uproar review to see why this is a touching tale about identity and knowing yourself. Uproar is premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival 2023.

Uproar Is Set During A Real World Incident

Uproar review poster

In 1981, the South African rugby team came to New Zealand on a tour, sparking protests about, not only Apartheid in South Africa but especially the similar treatment of the Maori people in New Zealand. While I was unaware of this issue myself, it’s all outlined pretty well in the movie. Similar to the Indigenous people of any nation, their land was taken from them by the government, and not given back, forcing them to be the minorities in their own native country. Followed by the discrimination, racism and inequality that typically follows. Unfortunately, it’s a story we’ve seen, heard and lived throughout history.

The story of Uproar focuses particularly on this one incident that sparked protest, and how it specifically affects one teen. With a British mother and Maori father, Josh (Julian Dennison) hasn’t shown much interest in the particulars of his heritage. But these protests and the actions of those around him, make him aware and awaken a struggle in his usually happy-go-lucky demeanour. Realizing the position he is in as a brown-skinned boy among white people who hated him, forces a realization in Josh that influences his future.

Uproar Review Is Wonderful Even Beyond The Politics

Uproar review Driver. .

While it may seem like Uproar review is all about the political history of New Zealand, at its core, it’s about not fitting in. Josh, doesn’t fit in. His mother (Minnie Driver) is a British woman in New Zealand raising Maori sons on her own after the death of her husband. And his brother Jamie is a rugby player with an injury, who can no longer play. Josh’s realization of him being different, while at the same time discovering a newfound passion and hobby in acting, is uplifting at times, and heartbreaking in others.

Seeing the tumultuous emotions within Josh pulling away at his psyche and emotional well-being made me tear up multiple times during Uproar. This is all because of Dennison’s brilliant performance as this teen who literally doesn’t know where to go and what to do to make his family and himself happy. It’s this struggle and self-discovery that is the basis of Uproar. All about finally discovering his culture, only to realize the devastating struggle his people have endured. It’s heartbreaking. 

Uproar Review Is Spoiler-Free, But Not Tear-Free

Uproar is a lot of things, but mainly it’s a cavalcade of emotions running rampant and all over the place, which is pretty much how it feels to be a teenager. If I remember right. But over all the movie itself adeptly handles these moments with ease and in ways that make sense. Driver as the supportive but helpless mother is pitch-perfect, and the perfect blend of nurturing and tough love. Rys Darby appears as the typical supporting drama teacher who sparks Josh’s interest in acting and encourages him to pursue it.

But it’s really Dennison who steals the show. He is able to capture the confusion, sadness and raw array of emotions that Josh feels in a way that feels all too real and devastating. I really hope we see more of Dennison in even more films that are able to grow this talent even more.

Uproar premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival 2023.

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TIFF 2023: UPROAR Is A Heartwarming And Heartbreaking Story About Not Fitting In
  • Acting - 7/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 6.5/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 7.5/10
  • Setting/Theme - 8.5/10
  • Watchability - 9/10
  • Rewatchability - 6.5/10
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