Duma

"Very Good"

Duma Review


The phrase "man's best friend" couldn't be more accurate when it comes to me and my dog. Not only does he greet me at the door when I come home drunk, he also is quite effective at warding off the bratty neighborhood kids when they come close to my house. Nobody I know has this kind of kinship with their pet, but plenty of movies depict it with enough charm to convince me that everyone has this relationship. Of the recent films about the relationship between man and beast, Carroll Ballard's Duma has its head quite a bit above the rest.

In the wilds of Australia, a mother cheetah is mauled and eaten by two lions, leaving her three cubs to fend for themselves. One of these cubs is picked up by a young Australian boy, Xan (Alexander Michaletos), and his father, Peter (Cambell Scott). On their way home, father and son decide to keep the cub and raise it as their pet, giving him the name Duma. It is obvious that the father and son have a strong connection, and it's made especially clear when they arrive home and the mother (Hope Davis) is hardly seen. Well, little Duma grows up and gets too big for farm life, so Peter tells Xan that they will take Duma back where they found him. Tragically, Peter loses his long battle with cancer and dies right before the trip is to take place. Xan finds it hard to get used to his new city home and, needless to say, so does Duma. After a panic breaks out at his school, Xan decides he needs to take Duma home himself. They take Peter's motorbike and head out to find Duma's home, running into a lost tribesman and several kinds of wildlife on the way.

First-time cinematographer Werner Maritz makes an impressive debut, giving vibrancy and mystique to the Australian desert. He sets up a perfect world for Ballard to play in; much like Caleb Deschanel did for Ballard in The Black Stallion and Fly Away Home. Ballard's unique sense of how animal and human bond has never been so keen, and he finds a more open terrain in Duma to explore it. The cheetah not only represents a promise to Xan's father, it represents all the bonds that the son and his father shared, all while still being grounded as his only real friend. Even more, the film never treads into overly melodramatic territory; the father's death is done quickly with very little crying and Xan's goodbye with Duma is heartfelt and sincere without overstating their emotional connection.

This is the second time that Scott and Davis have played husband and wife in the last two years (the other time being Alan Rudolph's excellent The Secret Lives of Dentists). However, neither of them steals a scene here, leaving Michaeletos room to give Xan's relationship with Duma a more natural and genuine feel. Eamonn Walker gives a wonderful performance as Ripkuna, the drifter that joins Xan and Duma and leads them towards Duma's new home. Ballard has crafted one of the better family films to come out in recent memory, and he might have just started a pet cheetah fad. Just don't feed them Milk Bones.



Duma

Facts and Figures

Run time: 100 mins

In Theaters: Friday 27th May 2005

Box Office USA: $0.8M

Budget: $12M

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Production compaines: Warner Bros., Pandora Pictures, Gaylord Films, John Wells Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Fresh: 56 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Carroll Ballard

Producer: , E.K. Gaylord, , ,

Starring: as Xan, as Peter, Mary Makhatho as Thandi, Nthabiseng Kenoshi as Lucille, as Kristin, Jennifer Steyn as Aunt Gwen, Nicky Rebello as Coach Nagy

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

With its fifth feature-length adventure, this franchise continues its preposterous journey at full tilt. As...

Keanu Movie Review

Keanu Movie Review

An entertaining hybrid of satirical comedy and action thriller, this madcap adventure swerves wildly between...

Ghostbusters Movie Review

Ghostbusters Movie Review

It's been more than 30 years since the Ghostbusters first hit the big screen with...

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

While the original 2013 magical caper was a big hit, it's style-over-substance approach didn't exactly...

The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

It's been nearly 30 years since the last live-action Tarzan movie, and yet it still...

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

A New York comedy with vivid characters and a contrived plot, this feels rather a...

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Nearly 25 years after the sitcom debuted, Edina and Patsy arrive on the big screen...

Advertisement
Central Intelligence Movie Review

Central Intelligence Movie Review

After teaming up with Will Ferrell for Get Hard and Ice Cube for two Ride...

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

Based on a true story, this Chilean drama has a chilling edge to it that's...

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Two decades is a long time to wait for a sequel, especially one starring much...

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

This movie is based on a real meeting between Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon in...

The Secret Life of Pets Movie Review

The Secret Life of Pets Movie Review

From the team behind Despicable Me and Minions, this high-energy adventure makes up for its...

Gods of Egypt Movie Review

Gods of Egypt Movie Review

With a massive scale and a digital cast of thousands, this ancient Egyptian romp tries...

The Conjuring 2 Movie Review

The Conjuring 2 Movie Review

Continuing on from the 2013 hit, this sequel blends fact and fiction to follow real-life...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.