There is little dialogue in Vigil, giving the performers a presence reminiscent of those in silent films. Set on a remote sheep farm, the film explores the psyche of, Toss, a 12-year-old girl, in the aftermath of her father’s death. As her mother becomes involved with another man, Toss struggles to understand the strange new feelings swamping her.
This is one of the darkest coming-of-age stories ever told, the lines between sex and death blurred to a point they are barely recognizable. Stark cinematography captures the bleakness of the landscape that perfectly matches the fractured psyches of its inhabitants. Yet at the same time, the film has its own unique beauty, a kind of blasted poetry that will leave viewers rocked to the core.
Festival de Cannes Official Selection 1984: In Competition.
Vincent Ward’s debut feature was the first New Zealand film selected to screen in competition at the prestigious Cannes film festival. LA Times’ critic Kevin Thomas lauded it as “a work of awesome beauty”.