RED DOG: TRUE BLUE
When eleven year old Mick (Levi Miller) is shipped off to his grandfather's (Bryan Brown) cattle station in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia, he feels lonely and out of place. But soon he finds myth, adventure and a friendship with red dog, he calls Blue - a dog that changes his life forever.
Review by Louise Keller:
With Bryan Brown and the stunning Pilbara region as its greatest assets, True Blue is a sweet film, although it lacks the completeness of the 2011 origina. Targeting a younger audience this time, there is less spontaneity and I wish Kriv Stenders had shaken things up to make everything more real. It all comes together in the end, but there is a contrivance about the storyline with its two-tier structure set in the present and flashback, when we are taken back in time to the late 60s for the central boy and dog story.
There is nothing more True Blue than Bryan Brown and here, as the 'stubborn man living on the hard land', he grounds the film with his no nonsense persona and calls a spade a spade. Most effective is the reality that Stenders has created on the remote cattle station, where the red land extends forever and the sunsets are celestial orange canvasses on which cloud formations rest harmoniously. This is the three meat meals a day world into which eleven year old Mick (Levi Miller) enters - after three plane rides and a drive in a peppermint green Holden ute with his grandpa (Brown). The camera loves Miller, with his heart-shaped face and handsome features, but I wished Stenders could have directed him differently. His clipped English accent sticks out like a sore thumb throughout. There's nothing true blue about that.
But there's a lovely eccentricity about the colourful characters that inhabit the story: the Asian chef (Kee Chan) who carries an umbrella, the cocky former Vietnam helicopter pilot (Thomas Cocquerel), an Aboriginal jackaroo (Calen Tassone), a pretty tutor who 'likes lonely' (Hanna Mangan Lawrence) and various others. I like the idea of the manic black horse that thinks she's a bull - since being struck by lightening. Of course, there is the dog of the title, whose name is Blue and whose colour is as red as the dusty west Australian earth.
The incongruity of the elements works well: Grandpa's prized orange tree, Dreamtime and a magic stone in a cave, a duel with banjo and guitar, table tennis to pass the time, Peter Ustinov's Peter and the Wolf, dog playing hide and seek with a yellow plastic duck and the flush of first love. There are two emotionally powerful scenes: an exchange between Grandpa and Mick, the other between Mick and Blue.
Jason Isaacs does a fine job in the storyline set in the present - as the father recounting his story to his young son.
Production values are excellent with Geoffrey Hall's fine cinematography and Cezary Skubiszewski's delightful music score. It's an enjoyable film and there's a lot to like, although the original gets my vote of confidence.
Email this article
RED DOG: TRUE BLUE (PG)
CAST: Jason Isaacs, Bryan Brown, Levi Miller, Hanna Mangan Lawrence, Justine Clarke, Steve Le Marquand, Thomas Cocquerel, Zen McGrath, Kee Chan, Winta McGrath, Kelton Pell, Syd Brisbane
PRODUCER: Bryce Menzies
DIRECTOR: Kriv Stenders
SCRIPT: Daniel Taplitz
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Geoffrey Hall
EDITOR: Jill Bilcock, Rodrigo Balart
MUSIC: Cezary Skubiszewski
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Sam Hobbs
RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 2016