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Review: Bosch & Rockit, written and directed by Tyler Atkins.
Sometimes a film comes along that simply feels right. From the opening shot, it envelops us in its world with a commitment that allows us to forgive any shortcomings.
Bosch & Rockit is such a film. Written and directed by actor Tyler Atkins – his first time helming a feature film – it's a coming of age story following teen surfie Rockit (played by pro surfer Rasmus King) and the ups and downs of his relationship with his father, heart-of-gold pot farmer Bosch (Luke Hemsworth).
When a fire encroaches on Bosch's crop, he's forced to flee the law, including the corrupt cops with whom he's in business.
With his son in tow, Bosch goes to a postcard perfect Byron Bay, where he has a fling with Deb (Isabel Lucas), daughter of the owner of the Sails Motel where they're staying.
Meanwhile Rockit, left largely to his own devices, surfs a lot, eats fish and chips, and begins a friendship of his own with waif Ash (Savannah La Rain), also from a broken home.
As the police close in, Rockit is palmed off on his mother, Liz (Aussie screen stalwart Leeanna Walsman), but she struggles to provide the care Rockit needs – she's an alcoholic – and she ends up dumping him back with his dad.
Angry with his parents, Rockit takes a job on a prawn trawler, Ash returns to his life, and their relationship blossoms.
A kind of simple magic
If it sounds cheesy, it's because it is. The film is sentimental, formulaic, and unevenly paced – the first two-thirds as they dodge the police feels pleasurably compressed, occurring over a few weeks. The last third seems to merely drift along on the current with several years unfolding.
But it's also incredibly sweet, with charming characters and stellar performances from the two key actors. The lesser-known Hemsworth is rock solid as the macho but sensitive dad, giving a full-bodied performance that convinces us of the tenderness within the egotistical facade. Luke Hemsworth is rock solid as the macho but sensitive dad, and Rasmus King is exceptional. Madman Entertainment
Teenager King is exceptional as the naïve and goofy Rockit. Unsurprisingly, his surfing is superb, and they obviously didn't need to use a double for him.
One of the highlights of the film is the awesome surf photography, and at times it feels like a surfing video with a plot tacked onto it. The stunning underwater images in the opening sequence alone would make the film worth watching.
Maybe it's all a bit too perfect, a bit too clean. We're talking about drug dealers, corrupt cops and neglectful parents, and yet the whole thing is characterised by a kind of dreamy and ethereal quality, replete with amazing drone footage of surfing, slow-motion images of waves breaking, whales, dolphins, and time-lapse galore staging the coastal terrain in all its glory against the elements. Perhaps it's all a little too Instagrammatic.
And yet, because the film is filtered through the subjectivity of young Rockit, we buy it. As he looks at the ocean with his father and sees a kind of simple magic in it, so does the film look at these characters and scenarios with a simple sensibility.
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Sincere and earnest
Rife with nostalgia, the film embraces an Australian (east) coast aesthetic from an earlier time unspecified, though we assume it's the late 1990s or early 2000s – there's dial-up Internet and don't seem to be mobile phones. Beach bums can still afford to live near the beach in this world; Byron Bay looks far different from the auctioneer's paradise it is today. This is Byron Bay in all its instagramable beauty. Madman Entertainment
Like the most effective coming of age and nostalgia films, Bosch & Rockit taps into the interiority of its protagonist as he looks out at the world, capturing that faintly melancholic moment when a teenager becomes thrilled with big bad life but also realises they're in it for the most part alone.
Bosch & Rockit is a sincere and earnest coming of age film with an understated quality that makes it better than many of its ilk. Its dreamy images unfold in the context of a genuinely touching relationship between father and son.
If you like gritty films, or clever films, then you probably won't like this. There's nothing knowing about Bosch & Rockit. The plot is rudimentary, but the tone is totally compelling, the characters are likeable, and the surf photography first rate.
It's a film that hits the right notes, even if these aren't exactly unexpected.
Bosch & Rockit is in cinemas from today.
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