A 13-year-old thrill-seeker in a coastal Australian town finds both exhilaration and danger when he is taken under the wing of a pro surfer, in the feature directorial debut of actor Simon Baker.
Contemporary World Cinema
Based on the acclaimed novel by Australian author Tim Winton, the feature directorial debut of actor Simon Baker is a powerful story in which the immense force of the open sea is matched by the tidal bore of adolescent emotion.
Pikelet (Samson Coulter) was 13 when he first saw people surf. "Never had I seen men do something so beautiful, so pointless, and elegant," he would recall years later while looking back on those days in the 1970s when he and his rambunctious friend Loonie (Ben Spence) roamed their small coastal town in search of excitement. They found it in Sando (Baker), a pro surfer living in a secluded house with his wife Eva (Elizabeth Debicki), a former freestyle skier forced to retire after an injury. Sando introduces the boys to the thrill of riding the waves and living in the moment. Pikelet displays a natural facility for surfing, but as risks burgeon both on the open sea and in the privacy of Sando and Eva's bohemian abode, he will need to decide what is right for him — and what is too far out.
The sequences of Pikelet, Loonie, and Sando rushing through colossal tunnels of water are exquisite and exhilarating, but equally impressive are close moments between characters seeking meaningful contact. Baker has always been a charismatic actor, but as a director he displays vision, compassion, and tenderness.