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Toomelah (2011)

 -  Crime | Drama  -  13 May 2011 (France)
6.0
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In a remote Aboriginal community, 10 year old Daniel yearns to be a gangster, like the male role models in his life. Skipping school, getting into fights and running drugs for Linden, who leads the main gang in town.

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Title: Toomelah (2011)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Daniel
Christopher Edwards ...
Linden
Michael Connors ...
Buster
Dorothy Cubby
Dean Daley-Jones ...
Bruce
Alex Haines
Linden Binge
Aunty Sharon Binge
Aunty Margery Binge
Uncle Lloyd Hippi
Tyericq Tavo
Daneeka Connors ...
(as Danieka Connors)
Lauren McGrady
Kevin Binge
Elaine Edwards ...
Extra
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Storyline

In a remote Aboriginal community, 10 year old Daniel yearns to be a gangster, like the male role models in his life. Skipping school, getting into fights and running drugs for Linden, who leads the main gang in town.

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Genres:

Crime | Drama

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Release Date:

13 May 2011 (France)  »

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Did You Know?

Connections

Featured in At the Movies: Cannes Film Festival 2011 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

The Bunyip
Written by Cedric McGrady
Performed by Christopher Edwards
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User Reviews

 
Tragically Hopeful
3 June 2013 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

As demonstrated with his first feature Beneath Clouds, Ivan Sen is an exceptional filmmaker and Toomelah is another illustration of how complex and entrancing a seemingly simple story of his telling can be.

Daniel, a quiet spoken Aboriginal boy is on a meandering quest that sees him ditching school, getting drawn into a stoush over a girl, sent on errands for mum to score a stick or show aunty (a silent returned-war-vet like, stolen generation victim) round town. His biggest test ultimately comes, however, when he wanders into the company of local drug-dealer, Linden.

When word of this gets around, his elders attempt intervention, but as their actions, with alcohol dependence (dad), drug-use (mum) shows, navigating the "right" path proves difficult. Rather than return to school, Daniel's involvement with Linden and co. evolves from silent but curious witness to informing, and eventually escalating, the turn of narrative events when ex-con, Bruce, returns to town and challenges Linden's local drug-distribution business.

What's immediately arresting about Toomelah, is that while it is Australian, set on an Aboriginal mission in northern NSW and in English, it is (necessarily) sub-titled and as such watching it, is as if watching a foreign film.

The young protagonist played by Daniel Connors is captivating on screen and continues in a long line of similarly extremely watchable child-led journeys (such as Edmund in Rossellini's Germany Year Zero and Hushpuppy in Beast of the Southern Wild) that all tackle with innocence lost. In the instance of Toomelah, informed by issues Daniel's elders, and those many other indigenous people, face: lost language, loss of place, substance abuse, incarceration; the hero's journey is navigating through these obstacles. As a result, the narrative is at times sad, dangerous, and penultimately tragic, but the film is hopeful upon conclusion and ultimately, for my money, a must watch.


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