“We’re trying to help you”. That’s what Bunny King keeps getting told, while she tries to win back her kids after they are placed into foster care. Her optimism makes her overpromise and underdeliver, and her drive causes her to occasionally overstep the mark. She takes in niece Tonyah after an incident at her sister’s home, causing the two to hit the road while working towards reuniting Bunny’s family. Essie Davis is great in the lead role, her Bunny is sympathetic and someone to root for, even when her choices are ill-advised.

As the film heads into its third act, these choices and her anger serve a greater purpose. Like I, Daniel Blake, the frustration at the heart of The Justice of Bunny King is towards the systems which supposedly support people in need. At the centre of it is a woman who has been wronged by taking matters into her own hands, and dares to do so again for her niece. Despite its narratively dodgy decisions as events build to a head, it’s this spirit in Bunny – and all the people like her – that packs a punch. The welfare state let Daniel Blake down, and there’s nothing to suggest it learned anything from Bunny’s experience either. Whatever help they’re offering ain’t working.

Down on her luck in more ways than one, and with a habit of getting in her own way, Bunny is framed as the villain by places she ought to have support from, whether that’s family or the state. She isn’t her mistakes and deserves understanding, and the film subtly closes the walls in around her when what she needs is a helping hand.

The Justice of Bunny King is an empathetic film. In its desperate moments, what is missing is patience, understanding, and an effective support system. It asks those who want to help to just try to listen.  

RATING: 3/5  


INFORMATION

CAST: Essie Davis, Thomasin McKenzie 

DIRECTOR: Gaysorn Thavat

WRITER: Sophie Henderson

SYNOPSIS: Bunny King is a mother of two, battling the system to reunite with her children. A confrontation leads her to take her niece Tonyah under her wing.