Hunt For The Wilderpeople Is Charming, Clever, Moving, & Features Leonard Cohen’s Performance Of “The Partisan” – What’s Not To Like?

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a charming coming of age movie set in the gorgeous New Zealand bush country1 that is a joy to watch.

I’m hardly alone in making this recommendation. On Rotten Tomatoes, Hunt for the Wilderpeople received a score of 96%, based on 195 reviews, with an average rating of 7.88/10. The site’s critical consensus reads: “The charmingly offbeat Hunt for the Wilderpeople unites a solid cast, a talented filmmaker, and a poignant, funny, deeply affecting message.”

Hunt for the Wilderpeople Features Leonard Cohen Performance Of “The Partisan”

The role of Leonard Cohen’s rendition of “The Partisan” in Hunt for the Wilderpeople is described in this excerpt from Deep Focus: Hunt for the Wilderpeople by Michael Sragow (Film Comment: June 23, 2016):

We know we’re in good hands from the opening moments, when the New Zealand greenery undulates across the screen while an otherworldly choral chant fills the soundtrack. Even Child Welfare’s Paula seems to tap her pen in counterpoint to the music. The whole movie has an eccentric rhythm because this director is confident enough to let scenes sit and breathe before accelerating his narrative with peppy deadpan montages. In one charged sequence, timed to Leonard Cohen’s “Song of the French Partisan,” Waititi unfolds the action in the cinematic equivalent of a mural. Via some optical and/or digital wizardry, the camera doesn’t stop moving from left to right as we see Hec, Ricky, and Tupac disappear into the snowy forest while bounty hunters, cops, and guardsmen trail them and Paula huffs and scowls eloquently, at different times and without a cut. It’s startling when the paths of heavily armed lawmen and Paula intersect. It’s as if time and space have merged kinetically. [bolding mine]


I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). The Leonard Cohen-relevant portion of this entry was originally posted June 25, 2016.


  1. I first became aware of Hunt for the Wilderpeople in 2016 because its soundtrack included Leonard Cohen’s rendition of “The Partisan” (see review excerpt and video above). It was only last week, however, that I actually saw the movie (it’s currently available on Netflix). []

Leave a Reply