Title – Boys in the Trees (2016)
Director – Nicholas Verso (feature debut)
Cast – Toby Wallace, Gulliver McGrath, Mitzi Ruhlmann, Justin Holborow, Tom Russell
Plot – During Halloween in an Australian town in 1997, recent high school graduates Corey (Wallace) and the bullied Jonah (McGrath) spend the night reminiscing about their lives growing up while coming to terms with the fact they will now be entering into the adult world.
“If you want to run with the wolves you’ve got to kill a few lambs”
Review by Eddie on 04/09/2017
If you were judging Boys in the Trees purely on ambition and the ability to dream big, debut Australian filmmaker Nicholas Verso would be receiving top marks.
A truly unique moulding together of 90’s skateboarding culture, a fantastical imagining of an Australian landscape were Halloween is just as big as an event as it is in the USA and a confronting examination of growing up and evolving into an adult, Trees cares little that its budget is smaller than most films catering allowance and goes for broke, without sadly grabbing hold of what its striving to grasp.
As is the case with most directional debuts, clear components of Verso’s film that needed fixing was a script polish and a tight edit, as this near 2 hour long film can at times drag as we become passengers to thoughtful teenager Corey’s Halloween night spent with bullied youth and one time childhood friend Jonah, as the two reminisce and go on a curiously long walk around the neighbourhood before Verso’s film finally clicks into another gear in the conclusive stages, but it’s too little too late to save Trees from its inability to click in its drawn out middle section.
It’s a real shame for the film and even as someone reviewing the work Verso has delivered as there is so much “could have” been in this film and Verso’s hand behind the camera and work with his young cast showcases a real potential to become one of the nation’s real filmmaking rising stars.
At its best (which is often in brief, fleeting circumstances) Tree’s evokes works like Donnie Darko, Brick and even Netflix’s breakout hit Stranger Things, all the while dealing with some extremely heavy topics that other films may tend to shy away from and the performances from young lead Toby Wallace and supports from Gulliver McGrath and Mitzi Ruhlmann are noteworthy in their above average handling of roles that would often be poorly played by local performers.
Final Say –
Saying to much about Boys in the Trees plotline, that unravels at an unfortunately misguided pace, would ruin a tale that will surely find an audience not only locally but abroad and despite Verso failing to maximise his original and ambitious idea, this coming of age experience suggests a bright future for all, even if this effort is a disappointment.
2 dead birds out of 5