You re Only Young Forever Once. — A week before the Junior Surf Pro final, Jesse (Lachlan Buchanan) is determined to snatch the title from his best mate, Andy (Kirk Jenkins). Victory would mean a one-way ticket out of Newca... more »stle and a career beyond his predestined future working on the dry dock with his father Reggie (Shane Jacobson) and older half-brother, Victor (Reshad Strik), a surfing champion himself until hit with a serious injury and now the local bad boy.
Jesse resolves to succeed where Victor failed to become a world-class champion surfer. Yet before Jesse gets his chance, he is disqualified for reckless surfing in the lead-up trial.
As a diversion, Jesse s surfing mates Andy, Scotty (Israel Cannan) and Nathan (Ben Milliken) plan a momentous weekend of waves and hedonism with some local girls Debra (Debra Ades) and Leah (Rebecca Breeds). Much to Jesse s dismay, Fergus (Xavier Samuels), Jesse s geeky, fraternal twin brother who has never even set foot on a surfboard, gets to tag along. Upon reaching the sand dunes, the teenagers swim, surf, flirt and party long into the night. Fergus is entranced by Andy, who is not at all threatened and accepts Fergus for who he is.
First light and the posse hit the waves. Andy introduces the painfully, uncoordinated Fergus to surfing. Fergus manages to catch a wave after many attempts and is elated but not for too long. When Victor and his gang arrive at the isolated beach and decide to claim the surf break, an unofficial contest ensues. The angry waves close out on the inexperienced Fergus. Victor, Andy and Jesse struggle under a rogue wave. Boards fly in the white water.
Fergus desperately reaches the surface to discover a tragedy unfolding.
Throughout it all, Jesse struggles to find his own identity and a reason to surf.« less
larry-411 | Philadelphia, PA United States | 07/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Once in a while a film comes along which tries to be bold, daring, and provocative while still retaining enough "warm and fuzzy' to appeal to American audiences. The result is usually a self-indulgent train wreck that smacks of too many engineers in the locomotive. First time writer/director Dan Castle attempts it in "Newcastle," and the result will leave audiences wide-eyed with amazement.
The setting is a section of Australia flanked by the sound of heavy industry on one side and the crash of some of the best waves in the world on the other. It is here that a complex family drama is played out, with three brothers caught in a struggle for individual freedom and respect from each other. Older brother Victor has seen his championship surfing days come and go, so it's no wonder he harbors some resentment towards his 17-year-old brother Jesse, on the rise to becoming a champion himself. Jesse's twin brother Fergus throws everyone for a loop with his ever-changing hair color and enigmatic personality. Dad tries to hold it all together but, like any working class parent, struggles to find the time to even be present enough to make a difference. An assortment of surfer guys and gals adds even more peer pressure, and what starts out as a beach outing becomes a defining moment for everyone.
That said, "Newcastle" is anything but a film about surfing. Yes, it was a requirement that the actors be able to surf, but most young Australians do anyway. So casting was not a problem. And it's this brilliant ensemble cast that makes the multi-layered narrative work so well. Themes of parental responsibility, sibling rivalry, and unspoken sexuality revolve around a gritty coming-of-age story which, ultimately, is really more about brotherly love than anything else.
The story's true focus is on the relationships among the young men, specifically the two younger brothers and their feelings towards each other, their parents, their mates, and their girls, or guys, as the case may be. It's always hard to single anyone out in an ensemble cast but this film touches the heart more than anything by the performances of Lachlan Buchanan and Xavier Samuel as Jesse and Fergus. Their relationship is both heartening and heartbreaking in turn, and it only works because the on screen chemistry is so palpable. Their commanding presence says that these guys have a bright future in cinema. Reshad Strik is riveting as the tortured older brother and Shane Jacobson shines as the father who is the antithesis of the typical American movie's working class brute of a dad - this guy has the heart of an ox. Kirk Jenkins (Andy), Ben Milliken (Nathan), and Israel Cannan (Scotty) are the core of the surfer mates - Cannan provides much of the film's comic relief (and contributes several songs to the soundtrack). All add nuances and layers to their characters which surface when one least expects it.
Production values belie the film's modest budget, with the polished look of a Hollywood movie from the first to last breaking wave. The soundtrack is killer, an absolute requirement for any film featuring competitive sports. Most of all, though, the cinematography is breathtaking. Richard Michalak's shots of surfers riding the waves, with his camera looking up from the ocean floor, had me shaking my head with wonder. It was like nothing I'd ever seen. I avoid spoilers at any cost but I feel confident in saying that there are several scenes which will bring tears to your eyes. "Newcastle" sets a new standard for underwater photography.
Various elements in the film, taken individually, aren't necessarily anything we haven't seen before. But it's the way Castle integrates them and the lengths to which he is willing to take them which makes "Newcastle" so refreshing. There is some content which may be too uncomfortable for theatergoers who have issues with male nudity and sexuality. Some scenes will likely have young guys squirming in their seats, but perhaps America has progressed to the point that we can appreciate a film which dares to be different.
With "Newcastle," Dan Castle pushes the boundaries of the typical American coming-of-age slash sports competition film (in this case, surfing). Perhaps he can do it because it is not, in fact, an American film at all but hails from Australia. Perhaps he can get away with it because it wasn't churned out by a Hollywood studio and didn't have the hand of the usual producers and distributors whose financing would undoubtedly come with strings attached. Or perhaps it's just because he had a vision and the tenacity to surround himself with others who wouldn't compromise. In the end, nothing is as it seems at first glance. "Newcastle" is a totally unexpected film at a time when there are far too few."
Great surfer, dude movie!
Deej | California | 05/31/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you love surfers or surfing and are gay then this movie is for you. The surfers are hot but it's not really a gay movie. If fact there is only homoeroticism in this flick. Don't look for any same-sex "brokeback" moments. It's a very believable tale of just kids coming-of-age with a beach back drop. The plot is simple but doesn't get boring. I didn't give it 5stars b/c I am gay and I was hoping the outsider would come "out" in the movie but I didn't come "out" when I was their age. Unlike "Shelter", there's actual surfing in the flick."
Kind of simplistic story, but exceptionally beautiful film.
Bob Lind | Phoenix, AZ United States | 08/14/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Surfing seems to be the sport of choice for most young men in "Newcastle" (Australia, 2008), a community on the coast of Australia. 17 year old Jesse is turning into a championship surfer, which turns up the resentment from his older brother Victor, a former competitive surfer whose wins were cut short by an injury. Then there's Jesse's twin brother, Fergus, who is kidded royally by his siblings and their friends for not being particularly athletic, and for having a repressed but obvious crush on Jesse's best friend, Andy.
Jesse and Fergus (along with their friends, including Jesse's girlfriend and another girl) take a weekend trip to desolate area of the coast to smoke pot, drink and surf. All goes well until Victor and his friends show up, resulting in a reckless surf challenge ending in tragedy.
This is not really a "gay film" at all, despite its presence at gay film festivals and heavy promotion in gay media. The characters of Fergus (who is kidded ruthlessly but good naturedly by his friends about his apparent crush on Andy) and one other minor gay role (the boys' grandfather, used more for comic relief) aren't developed even to the point where their homosexuality is fact rather than rumor, and don't add much to the overall story. The acting is adequate, with no performance really noteworthy. The "coming of age in a dysfunctional family" plot is simplistic, which I am thankful for, since it was often difficult for me to understand the dialogue under some rather thick Aussie accents (the latter, of course, is my problem, and doesn't affect the rating). However, what "Newcastle" is, more than anything else, is an exceptionally well photographed film that will stand up to any classic "surf film" for its beauty and breathtaking action scenes. A bonus with the great photography: more than enough "eye candy" to keep gay viewers tuned in. Some partial (rear) nudity, sexual situations, likely would be a light "R" if rated for USA viewership.
The DVD includes a "Making of" featurette as well as director commentary. I give this film three stars (out of five) overall, which includes an extra simply for the photography/eye candy."
If you think this is a gay film, think again.
Cambel | Washington, DC USA | 11/09/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This film has been advertising heavily on gay blogs and magazines like OUT etc... however, the film is bascially a surf film from Australia. One kid wants to make the professional tour, he has an older brother that is a jerk and always picking on him, mostly out of jealousy that his surfing career seems to have staled. The kid and his friends all go away on a surf weekend...they take along his brother, the brother never really comes out, but the film gives enough away to let you know he thinks one of the surfers is attractive etc...
The surfing shots are great and it was interesting to see the shots of Newcastle Australia. Australia is ofen only shown in it's best light, but the shots of the town showed it as a somewhat depressed run down factory town. The film did not have much depth, and again, if you are buying it because you think it has any gay storyline, then don't, but if you like surf movies then this is not a bad film."
Miguelvicente C. Gatmaytan | Seattle, WA USA | 10/02/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Simple ... clean ... and mesmerizing. A simple story that deals with growing up ... of conflict ... of redemption. A must see movie."