Australian classic Storm Boy gets a modern remake

by James Robins / 19 January, 2019
RelatedArticlesModule - Storm Boy movie

The biggest beak in Oz screen history, Storm Boy, returns in a remake of the 1970s favourite.

Colin Thiele’s 1964 novel about a boy and his adopted pet pelican became an Aussie family film classic when it was first adapted in 1976. Now, Storm Boy has received an earnest remake, complete with modern appendages.

This version flits between the mid-century and the present day, charting both the youth and dotage of Mike Kingley. He’s played by a dishevelled Geoffrey Rush, a member of the board that administers Coorong National Park. His son-in-law wants to strip-mine the sanctuary. Mike is prepared to go along with the plan until his granddaughter guilts him into remembering his youth.

From there, we get the crux of Thiele’s original story, with newcomer Finn Little in the role of Storm Boy: life in a beachside ramshackle hut with his father (Jai Courtney) and the trio of orphaned pelican chicks, which he nurses to full health and size aided by an itinerant Aboriginal man, Fingerbone Bill (Trevor Jamieson).

Some of the contemporary scenes feel forced and needless, often intruding into the flow of the more authentic flashbacks. Still, Little is a charming-enough presence in a charming-enough film, providing equal parts exuberance and thoughtfulness, and Jamieson’s contribution of indigenous wisdom and respect for the environment feels especially sensitive and timely.

By all means excavate and exploit those classic texts, but leave the land to the birds.

IN CINEMAS NOW

★★★

Video: Sony Pictures

This article was first published in the January 26, 2019 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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