This authentic Aboriginal tale is an enchanting generational campfire story.
Ten Canoes, in English and the Ganalbingu language with subtitles, has much feeling for the ancestry of the Northern Territory of Australia.
The direction comes from those who understand the commonality of where they came from and the voice-over by David Gulpilil is quite heady and witty.
Between scenes of hunting one gets into how a younger brother might act when his brother has three wives, the youngest played by Cassandra Malangarri Baker. The older brother tells us with some sense of disorientation how a tribe is affected by a stranger and a disapperance of a loved one.
With a short running time, Ten Canoes is deliberate even if elements of it might resemble an old mystery. The jokes of manhood and the scatalogical aren't done distastefully, and the disarming look at human nature pops up during tensions from politics and justice. It becomes a moving morality tale in an intense last act that adds to a fascinating, lush portrait of ancient life.