Bran Nue Dae

Critic rating:
MPAA rating: PG-13
Genre: Comedy
It's the summer of 1969, and young Willie is filled with the life of the idyllic old pearling port Broome, in the North of Western Australia -- fishing, hanging out with his mates, and when he can, his girl Rosie. However his mother Theresa has great hopes for him and she returns him to the religious mission in Perth for further schooling. After being punished by Father Benedictus for an act of youthful rebellion, Willie runs away from the mission. But to where...he's too ashamed to go home, it will break his mother's heart. Down on his luck he meets an old fella, who he calls 'Uncle' Tadpole, and together they con a couple of hippies, Annie and Slippery, into taking them on the 2,500 km journey through spectacular landscape back to Broome.
Starring: Rocky McKenzie, Jessica Mauboy, Ernie Dingo, Geoffrey Rush, Magda Szubanski, Deborah Mailman, Tom Budge, Ningali Lawford, Dan Sultan, 'Missy' Higgins
Director: Rachel Perkins
Running time: 1:28
Release: Opened Sep 10, 2010

Editorial Review

A musical romp to nowhere
By Michael O'Sullivan
Friday, September 10, 2010

"Bran Nue Dae" is so light and airy, it almost floats away on its own breeziness.

Set in 1969, the musical follows the adventures of Willie (Rocky McKenzie), a shy aboriginal teen who runs away from his repressive Australian boarding school to return to his girlfriend, Rosie (Jessica Mauboy), before she becomes too involved with the handsome singer of a rock band (Dan Sultan). Along the way, Willie falls in with a charming wino (Ernie Dingo) and later a quirky hippie couple (Missy Higgins and Tom Budge) who give both of them a lift in their psychedelic VW minibus.

The dramatic tension, such as it is, consists of what little suspense Geoffrey Rush manages to generate in the character of Father Benedictus, the stern German priest who runs Willie's school and who has taken off in hot pursuit of his wayward charge. His accent will remind some viewers of Cloris Leachman as Frau Blucher in "Young Frankenstein." Like hers, his utterances are accompanied from time to time by the clap of distant thunder and a flash of lightning.

It's all too cute by half. Ballast is added to the silly proceedings with a vaguely racial theme: "There's nothing I would rather be than to be an aborigine," Willie sings at one point, "and watch you take my precious land away." That song -- one of the best in a largely forgettable bunch -- is accompanied by Rockettes-style kicks, which don't do much to add punch to the lyrics.

It feels churlish to be critical of such exuberance, which comes across as less ironic than naive. One yearns for a bit more grit in the gears, something that actually threatens to derail the proceedings, something to matter, to be at stake. As it is, the story sails by, mostly unimpeded, toward its feel-good conclusion and is likely to be forgotten even before the final credits have faded from the screen.

Contains a mild vulgarity or two, suggestive song lyrics, brief drug use, underage drinking and slapstick violence.