DRAMA; 1hr 47min
STARRING: Lachlan Buchanan, Shane Jacobsen
Breaking out: Buchanan
Making his feature-film debut, writer-director Dan Castle has poetically framed grit down pat with this heavy-duty Australian coming-of-ager. Jesse (Buchanan, unrelievedly surly) is a 17-year-old surfer in a tough town. He is set on turning pro to avoid the landlocked fate of working in the local dry dock with his dogged father (Jacobsen, deadly serious) and embittered elder half-brother (Reshad Strik, ditto). But with his dream stalled and his family life entrapping him, Jesse is bitter, too, ho-hum. Then a mates’ weekend away rocks everyone’s perspective.
The cast is good value, surfing up a storm and looking the seal-sleek part. They also get how it is to be alive and kicking it at an age when so much still seems possible. Castle lets them play — and play — before ripping into them with a long-time-coming crisis. Newcastle is determinedly rough and ready and it cries out for a trim. But there is no denying where its underdog story is coming from.