Film Review: Storm Boy
We’ve all read the picture book in primary school. You’ve probably seen the movie on that Friday afternoon when Ms. Johnson gave up and decided that it was going to be easier to get the class to watch a VHS than do maths equations. But does that make Storm Boy beloved? Does it in any way justify this sequel? Short answer – no.
Shawn Seet’s retelling of the Colin Thiele’s 1964 novel hit cinemas on Thursday 17 th of January, and boy is it a confused film. Beyond puzzling script choices and a drab storyline echoed by the films muted colour palette, Storm Boy is a story re-telling that simply wasn’t called for. The choice to make a more contemporary cinematic adaptation facilitates the pushing of a contemporary environmental conservation storyline but makes the terrible quality CGI pelican shots even less excusable.
The flat plot isn’t helped by an average performance from Jai Courtney as Hideaway Tom and particularly jarring line delivery from Morgana Davies as Madeline. Finn Little ultimately provides some small redemption as the young Storm Boy, accompanied by standout performances from the trio of real pelicans.
Seriously, the pelicans are actually quite good.
Now, onto the elephant in the room: Geoffrey Rush. With its release set so soon after Yael Stone’s allegations of inappropriate behaviour, it is impossible to see Storm Boy without considering Rush’s presence in the film. The omnipresent question is – can we separate the art from the artist? Should we?
Basically, the art in this case just isn’t good enough to necessitate separation from the artist. Rush certainly has one of strongest performances of the cast, but with lines like “It was a miracle. My dad was saved by a pelican”, the script doesn’t lend itself to showcasing Rush’s acting prowess.
Fingerbone Bill (Trevor Jamieson) was unfortunately left un-fleshed out and underdeveloped, appearing as more of a spiritual guide to Finn Little’s Storm Boy rather than his own complete character. This seems a disappointing waste for a Jamieson’s talent and a missed opportunity to portray the Australian Indigenous literary figure in a respectable way.
On a more positive note, the inclusion of an acknowledgement of the traditional custodians of Australian land and the inclusion of Indigenous music in the soundtrack, though at the end rather than beginning of the movie, seemed a necessary and respectful appreciation of the history and making of the story of Storm Boy .
The reception of Storm Boy might be inextricably wrapped up in the controversy of the recent accusations against Geoffrey Rush, but that ultimately has little consequences for the potential of the film. Seet’s decision to retell a story we all know culminates in mediocre performances, an inauthentic script and all in all a disappointing tale despite the presence of top-notch pelicans.
Storm Boy is showing in Australian cinemas from 16th January 2019