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Julian Dennison in Uproar (IMDB)

In Uproar, a 17-year-old Maori student is forced to stand up for himself, his family and his future in this heart-warming story of identity. Source: Australian Catholics.

The film is set in Dunedin in 1981, as the all-white South African Springboks national rugby team are due to tour New Zealand. South Africa still practised apartheid and rugby-obsessed New Zealand was deeply divided over the decision to allow the team to tour. [Footage from the time has been incorporated into this story, making the protests feel even more authentic.]

However, Uproar is the story of Josh Waaka (Dennison), who is a student at an elite boys college. 

Josh feels trapped. He is a loner at school and mercilessly bullied. His father died several years earlier. His older brother Jamie is the football champion at the college (Rolleston) but has been the victim of an accident and is somewhat depressed, recuperating at home. Mum Shirley, is British (Driver) and works as a cleaner at the school. 

Josh also delivers papers and is friendly with some of the local Maori girls who are gearing up to join the protests against the Springboks. But, there is a possible saviour for Josh, in the form of Br Madigan, the enthusiastic but somewhat self-effacing, literature teacher who encourages Josh to join the drama club and develop his talent. But, his mother will have none of that.

As the film progresses, things become more complex. The Springboks visit, there are matches at the school, city protests and Josh comes under increasing pressure.

Audiences may remember Dennison best as Ricky Baker in Hunt for the Wilderpeople. He has a wonderful screen presence and we enjoy every moment he is on screen.

Review by Fr Peter Malone MSC, Jesuit Media

Uproar: Starring Julian Dennison, Minnie Driver, Rhys Darby, James Rolleston, Erana James. Directed by Paul Middleditch, Hamish Bennett. 110 minutes Rated M (Language).


Uproar (Jesuit Media via Australian Catholics)