It is a special thing to see an actor playing a role which looks so effortless and natural that it could be the real them. This is what Australian Idol winner Stan Walker has done in his debut film Mt Zion.
Walker plays a Pukekohe potato picker and gifted singer called Turei who strives to be the opening musical act for Bob Marley's 1979 concert at Western Springs Stadium in Auckland.
In interviews about the role Walker has said he had a Once Were Warriors - like childhood, now playing alongside the actor who brought Jake the Muss to life, it makes sense that he so easily conveys the cultural and financial boundaries of working class life in rural New Zealand.
Temuera Morrison gave Walker a lot of acting guidance during filming and it shows. The pop star stands up powerfully against Morrison who plays his father, and the two of them convincingly portray a relationship strained by the restrictions of poverty.
Walker's character is also one of warmth and loyalty to his Maori cultural roots.
Throughout the film he talks to his shrine-like poster of Bob Marley on the wall of his room, comparing his people's struggle with the Rastafarian movement. This is the first time cinema has dealt with the unique connection Maori felt, and no doubt still feel, with Bob Marley's music. For that reason it is an essential insight into a different perspective of New Zealand culture.
Shots of Pukekohe's beautiful golden sunsets and potato fields littered throughout the film are also likely to be a drawcard. But regardless of audience's cinematic preferences, Mt Zion is still likely to be 92 minutes of charming escapism with educational merit too.
:: Director: Tearepa Kahi
:: Starring: Stan Walker, Temuera Morrison, Darcy Ray Flavell-Hudson and Troy Kingi
:: Running Time: 92 mins
:: Release Date: February 6 2013
:: Trailer: Watch here