The review of The New Boy, the film by Warwick Thornton with Care Blanchett presented in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival 2023.
It’s not easy to steal the show from an actress of the skill and charisma of Cate Blanchettbut there are several elements of The New Boy that catalyze attention and risk doing so, as we will see in this review of the film by Warwick Thornton presented in the section In some perspective of the Cannes Film Festival 2023. For the actress, here also a producer, it is a return to the base, to her Australia which is the background against which the ambitious story told us by Thornton moves, between mystical suggestions and the wild charm of the territory in which we move.
A child to welcome in the storyline of The New Boy
We are precisely in Australia in the 1940s and we get acquainted with the New Boy of the title when he is taken, in the middle of the night, to a remote Australian outback monastery. The place, led by the bizarre presence of Sister Eileen, also welcomes other children and lives in a delicate balance that is disturbed by the presence of the newcomer, both from an everyday and practical point of view, and from a more profoundly spiritual and mystical one.
We spoke at the beginning of elements of The New Boy that risk overshadowing the stage presence of Cate Blanchett and one of these is Aswan Reid, the very young actor who embodies the child welcomed into the monastery: wild and almost silent, the little interpreter gives an acting test made of physicality and feral instinct, for a character who is recognized and welcomed, but without even receiving a name waiting to be able to be baptized. A character who lives and acts in a sort of limbo, a transition situation which echoes that of the environmental context in which we find ourselves, an Australia out of space and the time of the war that takes place in the background and marks the rest of the world .
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Between ambition and visual impact
Warwick Thornton has drawn on his own life experience to represent the world in which his The New Boy moves and tells its story with an ambition that is revealed both in the thematic assumptions that underpin it and in a high-impact staging, which enhances the large spaces of the Australian hinterland and the suggestive places of the convent with a careful and warm photography. It is another of the elements that risks diverting attention from the protagonist Cate Blanchett, while everything is supported by the effective soundtrack by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, which accompanies and enhances the work.
However, it is a story that must be trusted, which requires the viewer to let himself go to his mystical drifts, even where Thornton goes one step too far in testing the viewer’s suspension of reality. The fall in style is often lurking, but if you remain involved and fascinated by the history of The New Boyone cannot fail to be conquered by the complex dynamics set up by Cate Blanchett and her young colleague.
In the review of The New Boy we told you about a film that is as fascinating and ambitious as it is precariously balanced on the verge of credibility. Several elements help to maintain the magnetism of an ambitious story, starting with the usually very good Cate Blanchett, here accompanied by an equally good and wild very young performer, Aswan Reid, against the backdrop of an Australian hinterland with an incredible visual impact. The soundtrack that supports everything is also good, composed by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.
Because we like it
- The usual very good Cate Blanchett, here also producer.
- The very young Aswan Reid, wild and capable of stealing the show.
- The context in which we move, an Australia photographed with warmth and elegance.
- Some plot points and moments in the story risk breaking down the viewer’s suspension of disbelief.