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hibiscus & ruthless

Director: Stallone Vaiaoga-Ioasa (three wise cousins)

Starring: Suivai Autagavaia, Anna-Maree Thomas, Lafitaga Mafaufau, and Yvonne Maea-Brown


REVIEWER: emily carter

Evan Birch is a family man and esteemed professor at a distinguished university, where his charm and reputation have made his philosophy class very popular. When a female student named Joyce goes missing, Evan's previous off-campus dalliances make his wife question his alibi. Gruff police Detective Malloy has even more reason to be suspicious when crucial evidence makes Evan the prime suspect in her disappearance.

It would be a mighty mistake to overlook Hibiscus & Ruthless in the outstanding realms of New Zealand film. To me it feels like it had flown a bit under the radar, so it's high time to shed some light on this Kiwi gem!


Hibiscus lives under the ultra-strict rules of her mum: no going out, and no boyfriends. It's all education, education, education - and then she meets Ruth. Her rough-edged best friend quickly becomes part of the family and the sweet dynamic is what makes the movie. Samoan-Kiwi culture mesh into a story that's as intriguing to the viewer as it is entertaining.


Anna-Maree Thomas brings the comedy factor and is so lovable as Ruth. She's the dependable best friend that comes with her fair share of public misbehaviour and unmissable one-liners. My only critique is that I wished we could have known a bit more about her and her backstory, she's quite the entertaining enigma - for another film, perhaps? 


Ruth agrees to help bestie, Hibiscus (Suivai Pilisipi Autagavaia), in her quest to avoid the attention from boys while trying to focus on her degree. Hibiscus' lifelong commitment to following her mum's every order is put to the test when she is wooed by a classmate.


This female-led cast is one that I'm looking forward to spotting in future films, and this New Zealand story is one that can't be missed!

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Hibiscus & Ruthless is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital from all good disc and digital retailers. 

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