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The World's Fastest Indian  rating

Review: written 2013

Feel good road trip movie with heart, petrol and a dash of nitro

I've had this on my shelf for a while and had never quite found it appealing enough to give a shot - too petrol-head perhaps, or maybe too dry. How wrong I was and how glad I finally found the urge to watch. The story on the face of it is a very simple one (and true) about an old age pensioner from New Zealand who finally realises his dream to head to Bonneville Salt Flats and find out just how fast he can go on his old 1920's motorbike (the Indian of the title) that he has been tinkering with and adapting in the shed he lives in, but it's the journey that is revealing perhaps more than the reason for doing it.

At home, his existence is slow and made up of routine (not least, peeing on his lemon tree each day ..), and the slowness of his movements as an old man is contrasted with the speed that he dreams of on his bike. As he starts off on his journey we really get a feel for what a transparently nice guy he is, interacting with some random Americans along the way and the movie unabashedly supporting the idea of "Do as you would be done unto". His openness, pragmatic, accepting and trusting nature with a twinkle of mischief winning people inexorably over.. To be fair, it could all be a bit too much niceness and not enough actually happening, but director Roger Donaldson somehow pulls off a hat trick that works if you let it.

With a tone reminiscent of the road trip in Middle America of The Straight Story [DVD], or the unpretentiousness of The Dish [DVD] [2001], this is less excitement, and more slow burn character piece, and as such the success of the movie lies mostly on the shoulders of Anthony Hopkins, in what turns out to be unexpectedly perfect casting. His accent might be all over the place, but he has nailed the voice of this character's soul perfectly.

The final scenes are effectively shot convincingly portraying the speed when it needs to, and the photography does justice to both the home scenes in New Zealand, as well as to the expanse of the Bonneville flats in Utah we see towards the end, but it's not the technical details that make this a treat - it's simply that the movies heart is absolutely in the right place.

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