Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Broken Hill

Each week, approximately 15 movies are released in the Home Video Market in the United States. Most of us would be hard pressed if we recognized two or three of the titles. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about provided you still get your movies at the video store. So what about those other titles? Are they any good?

To be honest with you, most of them are a complete waste of time. You’ll find a lot of horror films with a trail of blood and gore or mindless action films with no plot or character development. But occasionally one or two will emerge from the pack that demands your attention.

Broken Hill is one of those films. This Australian production was released last year and, for the most part, was overlooked. Billed as a coming-of-age romance, Broken Hill is a little movie with a big heart. It may not necessarily be Oscar material, but it does remind us of what we really like about movies in the first place. Sometimes, all we want is an entertaining feel-good tale.

Broken Hill takes place in the Australian outback. A big part of the charm of this film is unquestionably the setting and the beauty of the landscape. Tommy McAlpine (Luke Arnold) is a gifted teenage composer who dreams of being accepted into the prestigious Sydney Conservatorium of Music. But that seems unlikely because Tommy is stuck on his father’s sheep ranch in the middle of nowhere.

His father George (Timothy Hutton) doesn’t see or recognize his son’s gifts and talents. Complicating matters is Kate Rogers (Alexa Vega), a rebellious American teen, who pulls Tommy into a night of vandalism that lands both of them in trouble with the law. Tommy and Kate are sentenced to community service. This is where the story really gets interesting. Tommy has a chance at an audition with the Sydney Conservatorium of Music; however, he needs a band to back him up. Unfortunately, finding musicians in the middle of the Australian outback is a problem.

Hearing about the prospects of a local prison band propels him on his quest. Kate’s not exactly happy about working with hardened inmates. All she wants to do is put in her time for community service and get back to her life. Making Tommy’s job even more difficult is the fact that the prisoners have their own agenda.

Can Tommy whip the band into shape in time and get his shot at the Conservatory or will he be forever stuck on his father’s sheep ranch? And what about Tommy’s father? Why is he so opposed to his son becoming a composer? And can their relationship be restored?

Writer/Director Dagen Merrill introduces a number of subplots. There is a potential love relationship between Tommy and Kate which serves as a coming-of-age story. There is the troubled father/son relationship as well as Kate’s rebellion and the back story concerning her parents.

Broken Hill has won a number of awards, including the top prize from the 2010 International Family Film Festival. The bottom line is this is a solid film. I personally like Australian films. Why? Because there’s just something different and compelling about them. Perhaps it’s the exotic location, the accents, or just because it’s different from the typical Hollywood movie.

These days there’s a lot of talk about family-friendly entertainment. The truth is it’s hard to find a movie that the entire family can sit down and watch together. The good news is Broken Hill contains no offensive or questionable material.

It’s also hard to make everybody happy because although Mom and Dad may like the movie, the kids are probably bored out of their heads. But Broken Hill is one of those rare movies that is engaging, entertaining, speaks to the entire family and, more importantly, is a movie everybody will enjoy and want to watch together. Broken Hill will capture your heart and leave you feeling uplifted and encouraged.

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