WAVE TO THE PAST
Drift Star Trek into Darkness Camille Rewinds (Camille redouble)
(M) ★★★★✩ National release OR non-surfers, the high point of the surfing movie comes when the camera takes us inside one of those enormous waves that dwarf the fragile human who somehow manages to stay upright on a surfboard.
Several popular documentary films have captured this magical moment, as did John Milius’s Big Wednesday (1978). The new Australian film Drift, which is set in Western Australia’s Margaret River region in the 1970s, also conveys, with awesome vividness, just what it is that makes surfers seek out that very special experience.
‘‘ Inspired by actual events’’, according to an opening title, Drift starts in Sydney in 1960 (in black and white) when Kat Kelly (Robyn Malcolm), an abused wife, leaves her drunken
(tbc) ★★★ National release from Thursday
✩ ★★★✩✩ Limited release
F(M) husband and drives west with her two small sons, planning to look for work in Albany because, presumably, that’s about as far away as she can get without leaving the country. Twelve years later Kat is struggling to pay the bills, older son Andy (Myles Pollard) is working in a dead-end job in a timber mill and Jimmy (Xavier Samuel) has become a slacker who is content to enjoy the surf culture.
The film, scripted by Morgan O’Neill who co-directed with Ben Nott, then describes how the brothers became involved in the manufacture of surfboards and surfing gear, thus ensuring that the Margaret River area would become one of the world’s centres for the surf culture.
In creating Kelly Brothers Surf Gear, they’re encouraged by the arrival of JB (Sam Worthington), an itinerant photographer who arrives in his brightly painted camper van accompanied by sultry Lani (Lesley-Ann Brandt). Unlikely as it may seem for an attractive couple travelling together in such confined conditions, Lani insists she’s not JB’s lover, and indeed he doesn’t seem bothered when she and Andy become a couple.
The filmmakers are so rapt in exploring the 70s surfing culture that they allow the film to proceed in a very leisurely fashion but, strangely enough, although the film is light on plot and cliches are only narrowly avoided, it’s so evocative of a time and a place, and so well acted overall, that the languid pacing seems hardly to matter.
The Kelly brothers face the usual problems. The local (caricatured) bank manager won’t lend them money to set up their business because he obviously despises the surfing culture. The local police think the Kellys are responsible for bringing drugs into the area, and a bikie gang, led by Miller (Steve Bastoni), is a constant threat.
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