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NEWCASTLE

SYNOPSIS:
Surfer Jesse (Lachlan Buchanan) lives in the shadow of his half brother Victor (Reshad Strik) an ex-surf champion and the local bad boy. With the local surf pro fast approaching, Jesse and his mates plan a trip away with some local girls for a weekend of surfing and partying in the dunes. When Victor and his gang arrive at the isolated beach and decide to claim the surf break, an unofficial surf contest ensues - and ends in tragedy.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
If Newcastle on the NSW coast north of Sydney isn't yet a surfing mecca, this film may well help it on its way to becoming one, so spectacularly shot are the surfing scenes. And there are many of them. And there are several surfers, too, all in their teens, their downy bodies shot with loving care by Richard Michalak, following the curves and bends, above and below the water, above and below the waist. Sometimes naked. Great shots, too, of Newcastle beach, sometimes brutalised by images of blue sea and sandy beach guarded by the storm troopers of the sea, the giant tankers that come and go at Newcastle port. All of these images are accompanied by the sort of music that you can - and do - hear coming from the cars they drive.

If this sounds like a long music video, it's because there is a distinct element of that in the film. Lingering images, loved for their beauty and composition, the pretty young cast and the contrasting scenes of industrial and scenic Newcastle help keep our attention - at least for a while. But then the thinness of the storyline begins to show and the dramatic device inserted to ramp up the intensity seems contrived. I am sure it isn't intended that way, but the dramatic surf scenes in which the drama is enacted seem conjured up. The chaos in the waves plays like wool being pulled over our eyes. But it is a needed device, because the ordinariness of the characters and their concerns, which makes the first act so engaging and lively, loses its cinematic grip without such intervention.

The young cast and the (comparative) oldies like Barry Otto as gramps, Shane Jacobson and Joy Smithers as the parents, all perform like a beaut big wave, but can't shake the sense of déjà vu as the story of a young surfer in the shadow of his older brother plays out to a predictable finale.

All the same, the film depicts the young male culture at the heart of the story with great honesty, accuracy and insight.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1


NEWCASTLE (M)
(Aust, 2008)

CAST: Lachlan Buchanan, Xavier Samuel, Reshad Strik, Anthony Hayes, Shane Jacobson, Barry Otto, Joy Smithers, Gigi Edgley, Ben Milliken, Israel Cannan, Debra Ades, Rebecca Breeds, Jaymes Triglone

PRODUCER: Naomi Wenck

DIRECTOR: Dan Castle

SCRIPT: Dan Castle

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Richard Michalak

EDITOR: Rodrigo Balart

MUSIC: Michael Yezerski

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Marc Barold

RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 6, 2008







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