'Newcastle' is a coming-of-age/family drama/surfing movie. 17-year old Jesse lives in the shadow of his older brother Victor's failure to become surfing's Next Big Thing. Even when he's in ... See full summary »
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Laura Jane Coles
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'Newcastle' is a coming-of-age/family drama/surfing movie. 17-year old Jesse lives in the shadow of his older brother Victor's failure to become surfing's Next Big Thing. Even when he's in his natural habitat of magnificent surf breaks, his blue-collar future is brought home by the coal barges that constantly line his horizon. Jesse has the natural skills to surf his way out of this reality and onto the international circuit but can he overcome his equally natural ability to sabotage himself? A momentous weekend away with his mates that includes first love and tragedy leads him to discover what's really important, and also to the performance of a lifetime. Written by
I saw this at its second screening at the 2008 Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival in Honolulu.
For me, a lot of movies only manage to engage me as a passive, casual observer--the proverbial fly on the wall. This film's extreme close-ups, tight shots and screen-filling POVs, both in and out of the water, drew me in and then ultimately carried me away--not unlike some riptide--into the world of surfers and surfing, a way of life that I only know on a very superficial level. (This is partly because I am terrified of the water, and the glaring irony of my moving to Hawaii from the US mainland so as to be completely surrounded by it isn't lost on me!) Just like how Scott Bakula's character must have felt in the sci-fi series "Quantum Leap" every time he time-traveled and ended up in someone else's body, I not only witnessed the unfolding of a story about a bunch of surfer kids...I actually became one of them. From the moment one of the surfer boys first opens his eyes in the morning. To his hearing waves breaking in the distance. To his paddling out into the salty, churning swell. To his jockeying for position--both literal and figurative ones--amongst his peers. For just a brief couple of hours of absolute clarity and certainty, I finally could understand the passions that drive my surfer friends, which at times can be dangerously all-consuming and, at other times, linger just below the surface--a gnawing, constant craving--quite similar to an itch you can't quite reach and/or satisfy.
Excellent cinematography and soundtrack, especially for the surfing segments. Decent pacing and competent acting from a handsome ensemble cast. Combining those with generous helpings of humor, pathos and youthful indiscretions round out this coming of age narrative.
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