Dir: Shawn Seet |Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Trevor Jamieson, David Galpilil, Finn Little, Jai Courtney, Eric Thomson | Drama Aus 95′
Geoffrey Rush and Trevor Jamieson are the stars of this tender-hearted tale of animal magic between a boy and his pet pelican. Trevor Jamieson plays kindly beachcomber Fingerbone Bill who joins forces with a kindred nature boy Mike (Finn Little) who lives with his reclusive widower father (Jai Courtney), known locally as “Hideaway Tom.”
Based on Colin Thiele’s popular children’s novel that originally found its way on to the screen in 1976 courtesy of Henri Safran’s able direction, this less vaunted version turns into a damp squib rather than an uplifting message of hope, due to Seet’s messy direction.
The wild and windswept beaches of Australia’s Coorong National Park lend luminosity to the bittersweet boyhood saga that sees retired property developer Michael Kingley (Rush) as the grown-up version of the book’s child character, recounting his version of events to his schoolgirl granddaughter Maddy (Morgan Davies) who lives in a modernist beach villa, adding property porn allure and making it all the more easy on the eye.
But storm clouds loom over this seaside idyll in the shape of a proposal from Kingley’s old property firm to lease land on the untrammelled eco-lagoon to a mining company. Kingley is against the deal, his son-in-law Malcolm (Eric Thomson) all for it, as the new MD. But that’s not all. Nasty poachers are threatening to shoot down Mr Percival the Pelican, adding to the family’s saucerful of sorrows.
Little Mike has formed a close bond with Mr Percival having raised the sea bird and its fellow chicks when its mother was killed by the very same poachers. Gradually they have become inseparable, as is the case with many lonely or isolated kids, Mike describing Mr P as “the best friend I ever had” the bird nestling affectionately into his arms. But as you can imagine, it doesn’t end well, although the ecological upshot takes the sting out of this crowd-pleaser which also welcomes back the original Fingerbone Bill in a great cameo from David Gulpilil. MT
ON DIGITAL RELEASE FROM 6 APRIL 2020