Artistic And Thought-Provoking—Review of The New Boy (2023)
It's been a while since I've seen Cate Blanchett in a film so I was curious about this new release when I saw fantasy and drama named as the genres. Right from The Lord of the Rings trilogy to some other notable films, I've been enamoured by this lovely actress' acting performances. I think most of her films for which she got awards are historicals and fantasy.
The New Boy (2023), an Australian fantasy and drama is unlike what I'd expected when I first saw the poster. Written and directed by Warwick Thornton, this film strives to mix indigenous beliefs with spirituality. The opening scene reveals a preteen boy (played by Aswan Reid) fighting a police man on a desert before he's captured, put into a sack and taken in the middle of the night to a remote monastery.
The monastery known for sheltering abandoned boys is run by a nun, Sister Eileen (played by Cate Blanchett), another nun called Sister Mum and a man called George. It's later discovered that the preteen boy called "New Boy" has spiritual powers that involve him snapping his fingers together and a spark of light appears. He heals wounds with his powers.
As the New Boy tries to adjust to the foreign environment, Sister Eileen receives a delivery of a large statue of a crucified Jesus. The boy becomes interested in the statue. Will New Boy accept Christian teachings while retaining belief in his supernatural powers?
This film has a runtime of about an hour and fifty-five minutes. The plot is good, engaging and it unfolds at a leisurely pace. Twenty minutes into the film, I anticipated a burst of action like most fantasy films or something exciting. I was slightly disappointed because there was no significant action. It was all about the journey of this gifted preteen boy from his indigenous, lonely life to living in a monastery with other boys and some adults, and trying to understand if he could retain his supernatural gift while believing in Jesus Christ.
When the style of storytelling became clear to me, I stopped anticipating, focused on the message and simply enjoyed the film. It's obvious that director Warwick Thornton is uninterested in intense and explosive confrontations usually seen in high fantasy movies. His aim is a quiet attention around the unfamiliar meeting the familiar. I understand this film is inspired by the director's experience growing up as an Aboriginal boy in a Christian boarding school. So the plot and acting make sense.
The acting is superb and relatable even for a new screen face like Aswan Reid. I understand the monastery boys are casted from remote indigenous communities in Australia and are not known faces in movie industry. I commend the filmmakers for this bold move.
Aswan Reid's performance is remarkable. He gave life to a boy who struggles to navigate the unfamiliar world and its rules and make a life for himself. Let's hope this film will make more screen opportunities for the star character and the supporting actors.
As always, Cate Blanchett is a compelling performer and we expected nothing less from her. She embodied her character perfectly as the lead nun of the monastery faced with a strange boy with magic powers. Aswan Reid is the focus of the film but Cate Blanchett's performance soaks up viewers' attention for most part of the film.
The cinematography is not bad and viewers are treated to sunny, melancholic sceneries in parts of Australia.
Overall, The New Boy is a fine, thought-provoking film and worth watching with an open mind. It's artistic and philosophical. Don't have any fantasy-style expectations like I did and you'll enjoy it. I'll give it 3 stars out of 5.
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Other images are screenshots from the movie
Posted using CineTV