Monday, September 14, 2009

Bran Nue Dae

Showing at the Toronto International Film Festival: Bran Nue Dae, directed by Rachel Perkins

Synopsis from the TIFF website:

One of Australia's most anticipated films of the year, the musical Bran Nue Dae arrives with all the energy, fun and downright sass of the original stage version. Featuring a cast that includes both acclaimed and emerging Australian actors and musicians, the story of one young Aboriginal man's search for love and his true identity can finally reach audiences all over the world.

It's the summer of 1969 in Broome, an idyllic spot on Australia's west coast. Sixteen-year-old Willie (Rocky McKenzie) just wants to hang out with his friends. When he gets up the courage, he also wants to invite the beautiful local church singer, Rosie (Jessica Mauboy), out to the movies. But these typical teenaged pursuits must wait, as Willie is about to leave for Catholic boarding school in Perth at the wishes of his deeply devout mother.

Life at the boarding school under the oppressive and condescending leadership of Father Benedictus (Geoffrey Rush) soon chafes, however, and Willie rebels, bolting for freedom. Alone in the city, he has no survival skills. He eventually finds a mentor in Uncle Tadpole (Ernie Dingo), an errant former resident of Broome. Tadpole insists on accompanying Willie back home, and the pair hitch a ride with the hippie Annie (Missy Higgins) and a German tourist, Slippery (Tom Budge). In the meantime, Father Benedictus has hit the highway in search of Willie, determined to return him to school.

Underneath the film's road movie/romantic comedy veneer is a story about identity and culture, and how each person needs to navigate those stony shores individually. The latter half of the sixties is a fitting era for such a philosophical search, and production designer Felicity Abbott captures it perfectly. Photography by Andrew Lesnie (who won an Academy Award® for The Fellowship of the Ring) showcases both the stunning Australian landscapes and the compelling visage of Willie as he tries to maintain his emotional footing amid the chaos that surrounds him. Hats off to director Rachel Perkins for shepherding one of Australia's finest stage productions to the screen.

No comments:

Post a Comment