Same But Different: A True New Zealand Love Story is the true story of Kiwi-Samoan writer/director Nikki Si’ulepa and producer Rachel Aneta Wills. They wrote, directed and produced this movie version of themselves falling in love.
The film isn’t on any streamers yet, but you can rent or buy it from the SBDMovie website. I’d like to see a streamer pick it up and distribute it because of the indigenous filmmaker and the many New Zealand native people represented in the film. It isn’t the greatest lesbian love story ever told, but it has some unique qualities. The actors do a beautiful job.
In Same But Different: A True New Zealand Love Story, Robyn Paterson plays Rachel. She’s a single mom with two kids. She’s dyslexic, disorganized, and a total ditz. Her life is always on the verge of falling apart. She works in a corporate office but does small acting jobs, too.
A film she appeared in plays at a festival for indigenous New Zealand filmmakers. Her mom (Michele Hine) drags her to it. Rachel is 1/16 Maori and mom is making an effort to reclaim their roots. At the festival, Rachel sees and immediately falls for the award winning director Nikki (Hannah Martin).
I didn’t understand why Nikki was interested in the total mess that was Rachel, but she was. Rachel was smart and funny and beautiful – I have to give her that. Nikki was patient about Rachel’s attempts to let her know she liked her. Their romance and courtship was definitely unusual.
The film is a superficial and PG version of what happened. There was more about the awkward misteps, misunderstandings, and miscommunications than about love and passion.
The interesting thing to me was Rachel’s transformation from a perpetual screw up to a calm and capable woman once she found Nikki. Nikki had a settling effect on Rachel, something she’d never found dating men. I suppose it’s the feeling of relief a lot of people experience when they finally admit or realize what their life is supposed to be.
I love New Zealand. I wish I could live there. It’s a treat to see both the cities and the country in the film.
There are many videos and photos on the film’s Facebook page if you’d like to explore a bit more.
Take a look at the trailer.