26 September 2023

Buckley’s Chance

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

Co-writer/director: Tim Brown, Transmission Films.

The desolateness, isolation and vastness of being in the Australian outback are evident in the opening frames of Buckley’s Chance. Also apparent in this family film are the true moments of drama filled with confident messages and optimistic vibes.

It’s a story about a young boy named Ridley, who becomes lost in the harsh outback with nothing but his camcorder and new friend — a wayward dingo.

Dealing with the loss of his father a year ago, Ridley (Milan Burch, Beyond Charlie) accompanies his mother, Gloria (Victoria Hill, First Reformed), leaving New York to get a fresh start in Western Australia. The plan is to live with Ridley’s grandfather, Spencer (Bill Nighy, Love Actually, Gideon’s Daughter).

Ridley is disinterested, preferring not to connect with his grandfather. At first, Spencer appears to be a cantankerous, old man, but slowly his kind streak towards Ridley is revealed. He wants to help him adjust to his new lifestyle and offers to take him camping, advising of nearby dangers.

While outdoors, Spencer and Ridley have a disagreement. After Ridley walks away, he finds a wounded dingo stuck in a trap and he frees him. The next day he goes out ‘exploring’, but his grandfather thinks he’s run away from home. Ridley, though lost is not alone. He’s in the wilderness and reunites with the same dingo he saved. The two develop a bond and both boy and dog try to survive the elements and get home safely.

There are wonderful performances from Nighy and Burch, and Kelton Pell as Jules Churchill and Martin Sacks playing Cooper. Even the bad boys — Mick (Ben Wood) and Oscar (Anthony Gooley) — provide some attempt at humour.

The movie’s title is an idiom, but it has relevant meaning. The significance of family is uppermost, along with self-assured messages about conquering heartache and surviving. It’s a stirring, courageous and amiable story.

Buckley’s Choice is screening in cinemas now.

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