Nick McCallum (Ryan Kwanten) works in his father’s rundown service station but the surf is his big love. His father Tony Bonner), an ex-pro champion surfer wheelchair bound after a surfing accident, stands in his way, as does his own fear of the Jurassic Points – the giant waves. Encouraged by his best friend and fellow surfer Dane (Jarrod Dean), he does break away from his father, but his surfing manager (Jeremy Sims) uses the two friends to unwittingly smuggle drugs. Dane is put in great danger and Nick is jailed; apart from fighting his case in court, he needs the support of his French photographer girlfriend (Simone Kessell) and jailed islander Ogitani ( Nathaniel Lees) to face the waves he fears most and find his destiny.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Surfie film producer Phil Avalon makes his directing debut and wisely sticks to the metier he knows and loves best: surfing. But the film is much more than a surfing carnival dressed up as a movie. It’s a genuinely engaging drama with a complex set of interacting scenarios, real characters and excellent performances, directed with both economy and sensitivity. The screenplay builds on a satisfying matrix of issues, from Nick’s inner turmoil and his father’s conflicted state to the relationships between the characters and the important subplot involving drug smuggling. In some respects this subplot almost overtakes the central story of Nick and his potential – the sporting story concept with which we are quite familiar. But it’s handled well and some of the surf footage is awesome, or should I say swell. Newcomer Ryan Kwanten is thoroughly engaging as Nick, and established actors such as Jeremy Sims (behind an American accent), and the older generation Carmen Duncan and Tony Bonner provide excellent support, as does Nathaniel Lees in a pivotal support role as the jailed islander with a few secrets. The film’s tone changes seamlessly as the dramas intensify, drawing the audience in with the characterisations. Liquid Bridge is a good example of how low budget genre filmmaking can deliver a satisfying drama, given a decent script. It could be a nice little earner internationally, too, in the video and DVD markets, and maybe even higher in the movie trade chain: it’s been invited to film festivals in London, Hawaii and Budapest.
Review by Louise Keller:
A compelling story about surfing and overcoming fear, Liquid Bridge is an entertaining mix of thriller, romance and the indelible friendships that link those who live only for the waves. After 25 years of producing movies in Australia, Phil Avalon finally dons the director’s cap, and delivers a terrific film that zigzags through many emotions. It seems fitting for this veteran of the Australian film industry to direct a film about one of the big loves of his life – surfing. And his passion shows. This is a story about the brotherhood of the surf, and the bond that exists between friends, rivals and acquaintances, who all share that mystical love for the lure of the surf. This is Blue Crush Aussie-style, with great cinematography that delivers doses of thrills via the majesty of the waves. We are enthused by passion and exhilaration, as we follow Nick’s bumpy journey into the pro surfing scene, where he not only finds his ‘self’, but his courage to boot. Good production values including a strong music score by Brett Rosenberg which brings life, rhythm and tension into the mix. Newcomer Ryan Kwanten is engaging and likeable as the protagonist, whose journey is a dizzying ride of highs and lows. The story is full of surprises, taking us deep behind prison walls, where Nick finds support in the most unexpected of allies. His training for the almighty Jurassic wave is as scary as the dinosaur itself, but using a bucket of water, a skate board and a roller-door. There’s a welcome touch of romance, with Simone Kessell lovely as Nick’s dream girl, but the heart of the film concentrates on Nick’s journey and his all-important relationship with his father. Solid performances by Aussie thesps Jeremy Sims, Tony Bonner and Carmen Duncan, and I especially enjoyed Nathaniel Lees as the mystery man in the next cell, who only stares in the direction of the ocean. An honest and pleasing film, Liquid Bridge offers the kind of escapist entertainment you might expect from a holiday page-turner.
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LIQUID BRIDGE (MA)
CAST: Ryan Kwanten, Jeremy Sims, Simone Kessell, Jarrod Dean, Carmen Duncan, Tony Bonner, Nathaniel Lees
PRODUCER: Phil Avalon
DIRECTOR: Phil Avalon
SCRIPT: Pim Hendrix (story by Phil Avalon, Brian A Williams)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Roger Buckingham ACS
EDITOR: David Stiven
MUSIC: Brett Rosenberg
PRODUCTION DESIGN: John Carroll
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: InterTropic Films
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 22, 2003