REVIEW: Boys In The Trees
Toby Wallace, Gulliver McGrath, Mitzi Ruhlmann, Justin Holborow
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
…essentially a winner…
It’s Halloween 1997 somewhere in suburban Australia, and it’s also the last night of high school for Corey (Toby Wallace), Jango (Justin Holborow), and their skater gang, The Gromits. Childhood is over and adult life beckons. But for Corey, there is some unfinished business to deal with from his past. When he encounters Jonah (Gulliver McGrath), a former childhood friend now victimised by the occasionally cruel Jango, Corey takes pity on him and agrees to walk him home for old time’s sake. But what starts off as a normal walk through empty suburban streets descends into something darker and magical as they tell each other ghost stories, drawing upon their fears of the world around them.
Boys In The Trees is the first time feature for young Melbourne director, Nicholas Verso, and while it’s a bit hit-and-miss in places, overall he’s done a cracking job. There is definitely a sense of nostalgia to Boys In The Trees that continually pokes you in the ribs while whispering, “Yes, you were that lame too when you were seventeen.” Maybe that’s what makes it slightly unbearable in places – not the direction or the acting, but the swift realisation that you are watching your own highly obnoxious teenage self, in HD.
Beyond the typical self-loathing and cringing that generally accompanies any Australian coming-of-age flick, Boys In The Trees does seem somewhat immature. And that’s not a slight at all. Verso’s work, while definitely promising, feels underdeveloped at times throughout the film, which is forgivable for a first feature. While his choices, and those of his young acting crew, are a bit iffy, there are strong glimpses of what they might one day become.
You get the impression that Verso is really trying to make his mark here. The fruit of his efforts result in something quite experimental, whereby he seems to have borrowed or reinvented new styles of narrative structure, editing, and overly cinematic storytelling. Sure, it’s great to test the boundaries and rip up the rulebook, but in the case of Boys In The Trees, Verso may have been just that bit too eager to find his voice, and he ends up getting lost in an eclectic (and at times opposing) set of styles. That said, Boys In The Trees is essentially a winner, and it will be very interesting to see Verso and his team grow into their obvious talent in the future.