“December Boys” reminds you of those sweet-natured childhood moments as it harks back to the days of the Australian New Wave, the time when films about isolation, loneliness, and the existential dilemmas of life tops such engaging motion picture offerings. Director Rod Hardy makes this film a low-key sentimental tale featuring breathtaking Australian landscapes that take you on a journey with four young orphan boys living in the Australian outback.
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Comedy, Drama, Dance, Music, and Romance Films
While watching “December Boys,” you can’t help but feel like you’re right there under the warm, sentimental glow of the beautiful Australian sceneries. Amidst the many clichéd elements, the film is still able to pull off an absorbing, coming of age story about faith and family in the eyes of a quartet of Australian orphans. These characters feature deep bonds of friendship and brotherhood tested during a life-changing holiday vacation during the 1960’s. Based on the novel of Michael Noonan, this pleasant drama appeals to sentimental adults’ schmaltz as it spells out all the life lessons in childhood and adolescent discoveries.
Coupled with straightforward melodrama and magic realism, “December Boys” brings back good old-fashioned storytelling and filmmaking with its visually well-mounted and nostalgia-tinged bearing. What makes it work is how the story gets effectively handled in between its many clichés.
This period film puts a strong, emotional tone on its religious elements. It showcases sea currents, seaside landscapes, rural neighborhood, and metaphors on fishing, cartwheeling nuns, a big fish, a black horse, and a nearby cave. It focuses on the smaller moments of keen human interaction and observation. It achieves its purposes of bathing itself with the sunny sea breezes exuding the energy of youth and promise — making it a simple and yet tender journey from childhood to adolescence. This movie follows the quest of the December Boys on getting adopted. Enhanced by an exotic locale crisply shot by cinematographer David Connell, the copious scenes of rolling landscapes, along with the moody sound from the complementing music of Carlo Giacco provides a nostalgic, golden glow setting the mood to heartfelt sentimentality.
“December Boys” earns its right to sentiment through the strong performances from its four leads. “Harry Potter” lead Daniel Radcliffe (as Maps), the oldest December Boy, graciously shares the screen with his equally talented co-stars. He seems to get the hang of the moody teen act. He may not be that cutesy “Harry Potter” boy anymore, but it seems like he is trying to build a future as a young adult performer once he shelves Harry’s wand and spectacles once and for all. Lee Cormie (as Misty) provides a freshly gentle solicitousness as an idealistic boy taking advantage of an opportunity for a better future during such a glorious, life-changing holiday. James Fraser (as Spit) keeps up with his character as one of the parentless wonders trying to cope up with the competition on finally getting adopted. Christian Byers (as Sparks) adds dimension to the brotherhood facet of the four. Even the supporting characters all deliver well for the film to really work.
Overall, amidst some discontinuity concerns, “December Boys” is a beautifully written, acted, photographed, and directed film. It pulls all the elements together to make a sincerely, well-intentioned and earnestly sentimental story.