Magik and Rose - the intriguing title raises in our minds contrasted
images. Vanessa Alexander, writer and director, uses contrasts powerfully
throughout the film.
Magik, an unconventional name with odd spelling, really suits the character
of Magik, the phoney fortune teller who at the very beginning of the film
parked her house truck in the camping ground near the river and held my
interest from then on. Alison Bruce is really convincing in the role and
Simonde Norden served her well in the creation of her weird and wonderful
outfits which with their colours and texture highlight the unconventional
side of her character. Her house truck with its zany adornments can be
quickly converted to fit in with our image of a gypsy fortune teller's
Rose, the name of a beautiful flower, suits the attractive young married
woman who works in the local pharmacy. Nicola Murphy creates a very real
Rose - a young woman in strong contrast to Magik. Her obsession with her
problems conceiving the child she desperately wants drives her to consult
Magik who has asked her to put up a notice in the pharmacy informing the
people of Hokitika that there is a fortune teller in town.
The two women could hardly look more different when they confront each
other, Magik's ostentatiously unconventional outfit contrasting with Rose's
trim skirt and blouse which she wears in the pharmacy. Magik tells Rose
what she wants to hear - that she will soon have a child. When she is
proved wrong the women meet again and find that they both have the same
desire - to have a child. Contrasted as they are their common problem is
a bond and they become firm friends.
There is contrast within the characters themselves. There is a strong
contrast between the sham confidence of Magik the fortune teller, and the
stressed timidity of Magik the mother speaking to the daughter she gave
away sixteen years earlier. Rose's moods fluctuate from exhilaration to
From serious to humorous scenes
There are serious scenes related to the central theme, and plenty of
humour. When Magik is concerned about the image she will present to her
rediscovered daughter she persuades Rose to exchange outfits - with
hilarious results. Magik's solution is to advertise for a sperm donor and
the interviews with the applicants are rich in humour.
If you are inhibited about hearing discussion about intercourse and
conception maybe you should not go to this film. On the other hand if the
reference to sperm donors makes you want to go for titillation you will be
disappointed. The film is essentially about two women's desire to conceive
and the amusing situations that result from this.
Set on New Zealand's West Coast
The film is set in Hokitika on New Zealand's largely undeveloped and
beautiful West Coast. Though I am often drawn back to this area by its
rugged beauty I was glad that Vanessa Alexander resisted the temptation to
use the film as something of a tourism promotion. The setting was a rural
township beside a river where people fish for whitebait, but the themes
were not specific to the setting. The problems of the women could be found
in any community, and the humour and fun of the Wild Foods Festival could
be found in other folk festivals.
Low budget, but high value entertainment
Magik and Rose has been described as a low budget film but to me the film
did not suffer as a result. There were three supporting actors, Oliver
Driver as Jackson who sells snails' eggs in the camping ground, Simon Ferry
as Rose's husband, and Florence Hartigan as Magik's daughter - all
presenting convincing characters. The crowd scenes were shot at an actual
Wild Foods Festival which greatly cut the film's costs. The musicians were
the local Coalrangers. I would describe the film as being low budget but
having high entertainment value.