Screened as part of NZIFF 2008
In her first feature Samoan-born Aucklander Sima Urale brings an ebullient light touch to a script by Shuchi Kothari and Dianne Taylor which traces parallel, richly loaded domestic dramas in two families of cooks: one Sikh, the other dyed-in-the-wool Anglo. Both tales centre on mothers and their fatherless sons. Lorna (Jennifer Ludlum) is the proprietor of an old-fashioned cake shop, and mother of the listless, unemployed Barry (Scott Wills) who's 35, still living at home and complaining about her cooking. The glamorous Anita (Laila Rouass) hosts an Indian Cooking Show on TV. Her poise is shaken when her student son Michael (Nathan Whitaker), the apple of her eye, starts to "explore his Indian-ness" by getting a job in an Otahuhu curry-house.
The film's action illuminates the complex ways in which parents and children add weight to each other's burdens. It does so with a welcome lack of glibness about how the damage can be undone. In the plum role Jennifer Ludlum is riveting. Her Lorna may strike us at the outset as almost comical, a Roger Hall creation, in her sniffy disdain for the Asian and PI hordes crowding in on her pink frost island. By the end of the film we've understood how she's marooned herself in other, much more devastating ways. Scott Wills is perfectly matched as her hapless son. Apron Strings ends with cups of tea, but this irresistibly local celebration of recognisable real lives on the big screen is an occasion for cocktails. — BG