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Newcastle (Dan Castle, 2008) wr. Dan Castle; Lachlan Buchanan, Xavier Samuel, Reshad Strik; youth drama; surfing, coming-of-age; 107 mins
a sun-drenched coming-of-age ode to surfing
As far removed from the Geordie capital as you can get, this sun-drenched ode to surfing from down under offers up a bevy of hunks riding the crest of a wave during the day and other things, when night falls.
And it all revolves around seventeen-year-old Jesse; a good looking kid forever living in the surfing shadow of his older brother Victor, that of an ace on a long board who's hardly impressed by his step-brother coming third in the local trials. Not that anything appears to impress these Aussie bros, with Jesse equally tough on his twin sibling Fergus; a teen fixated on the good looks and body of Jesse’s best friend Andy. Only as guys and gals head off to the dunes for a weekend of sun, surfing and sex, it isn’t long before the raging hormones of adolescent youth climax in ways not expected.
Capturing the love of the sport for all its worth, here writer and director Dan Castle delivers a breathtaking, if at times beautifully homoerotic work, as lush underwater cinematography, coupled with an ensemble of surfing doubles, let alone an opening reel of expletives all but set the macho tone of the Australian surfing scene. Yet between the beach and the sea, Castle charts a compelling coming-of-age story, as sibling rivalry, loss and ultimately brotherly love take centre stage. Only and unlike such features as Shelter and Tan Lines, here the homosexual aspect of the story is somewhat underplayed, a lack of overt gay content that Castle compensates for by lacing his film with more blue-eyed hunks in trunks, let alone bare-arsed Aussie cheek, than what you can shake a BelAmi camera at ... well almost.
And whilst mum and dad are present, it is with adorable Gramps as finely played by Barry Otto of Strictly Ballroom fame where the real heart and soul of the picture lies, one augmented by a series of secondary characters doing their best with what little meat they have on their cinematic bone. Then again, this is a Lachlan Buchanan / Jesse and Xavier Samuel / Fergus piece, even if Reshad Strik shines in the form of troubled big brother Victor. All of which makes for a well made slice of coming-of-age pie, arriving as it does like an adrenaline rush of testosterone filled sunshine, on a bleak winter's day. Although as to whether Fergus gets off with Andy, who may or may not be gay himself, well I'll say no more, apart from stay tuned to the end credits.
Garry Gillard | New: 11 February, 2022 | Now: 11 February, 2022