Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bra Boys *


Director: Sunny Abberton, Macario de Souza

The Bra Boys are a Sydney surfing gang named after the suburb of Manoubra where most of them live.
The most prominent family within this community are the Abbertons; three brothers who were raised by their grandma and best represent the escape from pain provided by surfing.
Done to show the side of surfers few people know, the film (which in a moment of selfcongratulation was directed by one of the Abbertons) comes off looking as a poorly constructed, aimless PR video that unintentionally achieves satire qualities which would be genius in "The Simpsons".
When one kid says that his mom allows him to skip school in order to go surf and later you see another of them proudly talking about how he defended his stash of ecstasy pills before giving them up to an armed thug you don't know whether to laugh or be shocked.
What remains most distressing though is the unabashed sincerity with which the events are shown and the Abbertons inability to see why they're tagged and discriminated. When talking about community values between the surfers we see home videos of them lighting each other on fire, putting firecrackers in another's pants and smashing beer bottles around, while a song with the lyrics "we like to fuck around" plays in the background. Yet to them this is the group they grew up in and the one they call family.
The documentary as a whole perpetuates the stereotypes that surfers are trying to run away from. If these people leave drug filled homes and grow up to become professional surfers who get involved in police riots and murder, you don't really know how they have the guts to defend themselves with a feature length film.
During one of the movie's dramatic archs, Jai and Koby Abberton get involved in a trial for murder. Filled with slow motion and dramatic music the camera follows Koby who decides that he will fill his time between court appointments to go surf the most dangerous waves in the world.
Intended to be seen as a liberating metaphor, the events come off as scarily irresponsible and selfish, especially when you consider that Jai's trial (which had a stronger charge) is all but remembered during these moments and is brought back only when the plot needs another arch.
The film, narrated by a barely there Russell Crowe, begins with a short recap of how Australia was populated by British prisoners and ever since has had a reputation for troublemaking which gave path for surfers to become paria.
And the film's problem is precisely this: it never rises above cliché and instead of exploring the sociological reasons that link surfing and crime, it sometimes makes the notorious Bra Boys live up to the conception that they're the worthy successors of the original criminal settlers.

1 comment:

woodstock said...

"When one kid says that his mom allows him to skip school in order to go surf and later you see another of them proudly talking about how he defended his stash of ecstasy pills before giving them up to an armed thug you don't know whether to laugh or be shocked."

loooooooooooooooooooooooool!
i gotta watch this movie!! hahahahah