Hibiscus & Ruthless
Out Now On-Demand
Buddy comedy from the writer-director of Three Wise Cousins following Hibiscus (Suivai Autagavaia), a young woman who tries to keep her head down in university work. However, with young men looking to impress her, she calls on her rugged friend Ruth (Anna-Maree Thomas) for guidance.
Stallone “S.Q.S.” Vaiaoga-Ioasa’s feature debut Three Wise Cousins was a self-funded hit that proved audiences were hungry for mainstream Pacific films that put Pacific Islanders in the spotlight. It resulted in a film that asked you to forgive some huge pacing problems and dicey acting to support something greater – the growth of a filmmaker we need. His second feature, Hibiscus & Ruthless, is a better film both aesthetically and on a storytelling level. It’s also really, really funny.
Hibiscus (Suivai Autagavaia) is an intelligent and hardworking young woman living under the heavy shadow of her merciless Samoan mother. She must adhere to two rules: No going out and no boyfriends. Her best mate Ruth (Anna-Maree Thomas), who always goes out and has had many boyfriends, is there to keep her in check as they begin life as uni students. Ruth’s also a palagi who was pretty much raised Samoan, as demonstrated in an affectionate childhood montage.
Thomas goes for broke as the eccentric “Ruthless” with a lively performance that sees her smacking a number of gags over the boundary. She turns it all the way up to 11, though she could have benefitted from toning it down more often – one of the funniest moments actually comes from how casually she exits a hugely dramatic scene.
Fortunately, Autagavaia keeps things grounded as the comedic straight woman to Ruthless and the numerous goofs trying to court her. This includes a tragically corny pseudointellectual and a French-Samoan heartthrob so gosh-darn pretty he makes Channing Tatum look like Gilbert Gottfried.
The big setback lies in the third act where key characters make sudden 180-degree shifts in their personality for the sake of drama. Ruth’s turn is the most jarring, going from university slacker who sleeps through lectures to sudden engineering genius. Had she shown more devotion to her studies, it would have done a lot to give the somewhat surprising conclusion the emotional punch it was aiming for.
Despite playing its hand too heavily near the end, Hibiscus & Ruthless remains an entertaining comedy with a strong sense of character and an even stronger sense of humour.
Stuff.co.nz (James Croot)
A Crazy, Fun, Crackup Family film
Although the pace of the movie was kind of unbalanced and the somewhat cringy Dance in it well made me do exactly that, cringe it was all outshined by the crack up comedy within it. Ruthless's character definietly brought life to the movie and I thought that the characters were really unique and awesome in their own way. Overall I loved how it is a film that many people that grew up in NZ could relate to one way or another. I absolutely loved this movie and would recommend this to everyone!!
See this movie as soon as you can!
Bloody brilliant - the two main characters are so well written and the actors are awesome. Heaps of laughs and all put together by a local Auckland crew who love what they do. Support awesome NZ movies - go see this as soon as it opens on 25 January!