Based on Alan Duff’s novel, as was Lee Tamahori’s Once Were Warriors, What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted is a sequel to the story of Jake (TAMUERA MORRISON), still full of rage but now having moved away from his family and with a new girlfriend. But he bears the sorrow of the suicide of his daughter Grace, who was the subject of Once Were Warriors, driven to death by the abuse, both mental and physical, that her family heaped on her. And then one of his sons, Nig (JULIAN ARAHANGA) is killed in a gang fight. As Jake’s other son Sonny (CLINT ERUERA) seeks revenge, so Jake tries to come to term with his drinking, violence and the mess his life has become.
Duff’s novels portrayed the poverty and subsequent social problems that sections of New Zealand’s native Maori population endure and these are accurately, sometimes viciously translated to the films (the gang fights are particularly brutal) but, in the same way Duff has not been ostracised by his community, neither were the films rejected in New Zealand, instead educating Kiwis about the problems on their own doorstep.
Morrison and Eruera turn in powerful, visceral performances of impotent frustration caused by both their environment and their own interpretations of true masculinity and, while the females tend the be more sketchy but NANCY BRUNNING as Sony’s girlfriend is by turns fiercely violent and touchingly tender while RENA OWEN as Beth, Jake’s estranged wife, is heart-breakingly fragile.
New Zealand / 1999
Director: Ian Mune
Writer: Alan Duff
Cast: Temuera Morrison, Clint Ereura, Nancy Brunning, Julian Arahanga