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A boy who is believed to bring bad luck to everyone around him leads his family and two new friends through Laos to find a new home. After a calamity-filled journey through a land scarred by the legacy of war, to prove he's not bad luck he builds a giant rocket to enter the most exciting and dangerous competition of the year: the Rocket Festival. Written by
Red Lamp Films
An Australian co-production that deserves to be seen by a lot more than would've currently experienced it, The Rocket is one of those feel good films that is impossible not to fall for despite it not quite going on with the early promise of the possibility of a new classic.
Director Kim Mordaunt clearly has a spot in his heart for the people of Laos (where this film is set), no doubt stemming from his time filming his scary and touching documentary on the amount of unexploded bombs left over in the country in the 2007 doco Bomb Harvest. Weaving his knowledge of this true life aspect of the country Mordaunt tailors a touching story around it that features some stand out child actors and a particularly groovy uncle in the form of the James Brown loving Uncle Purple played very well by Suthep Po-ngam, but in the end it is the aforementioned child actors that steal the film and make it what it is.
As determined and supposedly cursed young boy Ahlo young actor Sitthiphon Disamoe does a supreme job of portraying a boy that unfortunately bares the stigma of being born a twin into a village that believes twins carry a curse. Ahlo's journey that he takes with family is fraught with both sadness and joy and it's here that the film struggles to lay hold onto what it's setting out to achieve with moments of emotion not played out to full effect and comedic elements feeling misplaced amongst them. Mordaunt must of found it hard to place all these varying emotions into the right place and the films last 20 30 minutes really shows this. Mordaunt however excels at capturing the beautiful and at times scary images of the country and his direction of Disamoe and also young actress Loungnam Kaosainam as Ahlo's friend Kia is exemplary, a fine achievement for an Australian director in what is an area that often trips up other compatriots.
Submitted as Australia's entry into this year's Academy Awards foreign film category and playing well to festivals the world over its clear many feel an affection for this unique and often heart-warming tale. Australia should be proud of what Mordaunt has achieved here and even prouder of his efforts to highlight the horror of what Laos still has to deal with today thanks to a war that is now sadly largely forgotten.
3 and a half unwashed purple suits out of 5
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