Film & TV

"Bran Nue Day" a Sloppy, Happy Road Trip

Dorky and earnest, aboriginal teen Willie (Rocky McKenzie) proves deep down a dissident when he escapes Catholic boarding school in 1969 Perth, extinguishing the fire and brimstone of Father Benedictus (a hammy, German-inflected Geoffrey Rush) through cheeky song: "There's nothing I would rather be/Than to be an Aborigine/And watch you take my precious land away." Hooking up with a rascally drunken hobo and a hippie couple in a VW bus, Willie show-tunes his way home to Broome on a madcap, sunny-day road trip, eventually reconnecting with his evangelical mama and the girl who snubbed him (Australian Idol runner-up Jessica Mauboy). Indigenous filmmaker Rachel Perkins' energetic adaptation of a two-decade-old stage musical has become a homegrown hit in Oz, as it nakedly attempts to be a timeless coming-of-ager about cultural identity with humor and music used to diffuse social injustices. However, the film is too broad and tacky to engage on a universal level, or at least stateside—the choreography is sloppy and lifeless; the outmoded blend of vintage rock, country, and Broadway styles doesn't click; and the characters are such caricatures that it's no wonder the entire cast is overacting. Oh, but to Lord of the Rings cinematographer Andrew Lesnie: Well done, mate.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Aaron Hillis is a regular film contributor at Voice Media Group and its film partner, the Village Voice. VMG publications include LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press and Dallas Observer.