For those unfamiliar with the classic Australian tale, Storm Boy follows the story of a young boy growing up on a secluded part of the South Australian coastline who rescues three baby pelicans left orphaned by hunters and develops a close bond with them. Of course a film about pelicans is right in our wheelhouse; after all we owe our name to the long-beaked water birds, so it seemed only fitting for us to check out Shawn Seet’s modern retelling of Colin Thiele’s timeless story.
Unfortunately, the biggest drawback in the new Storm Boy is that it feels largely unnecessary as its attempts to modernise the story only serve to detract from the novel’s heartfelt core. The decision to frame the story through the present day, as the young boy recounts his story as an elderly man to his granddaughter, is an unnecessary revision to the narrative that slows down the pace and constantly takes you out of the film.
Nonetheless, the core story still resonates and the film is beautifully shot on the South Australian coastline with long, sweeping establishing shots almost allowing you to taste the salty, sand swept air. Overall, for a new generation, Storm Boy (2019) offers a heart-warming and earnest update, although the attempt to modernise the story may not go down as easy for long-time fans.
Words by Dominic Kwaczynski, Film Co-Editor