May 1, 2009 0 By Fans
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'Newcastle' is a coming-of-age/family drama/surfing movie. 17-year old Jesse lives in the shadow of his older brother Victor's failure to become surfing's Next Big Thing…

Release Year: 2008

Rating: 5.8/10 (627 voted)

Dan Castle

Stars: Lachlan Buchanan, Xavier Samuel, Reshad Strik

'Newcastle' is a coming-of-age/family drama/surfing movie. 17-year old Jesse lives in the shadow of his older brother Victor's failure to become surfing's Next Big Thing. Even when he's in his natural habitat of magnificent surf breaks, his blue-collar future is brought home by the coal barges that constantly line his horizon. Jesse has the natural skills to surf his way out of this reality and onto the international circuit but can he overcome his equally natural ability to sabotage himself? A momentous weekend away with his mates that includes first love and tragedy leads him to discover what's really important, and also to the performance of a lifetime.


Lachlan Buchanan


Xavier Samuel


Reshad Strik


Kirk Jenkins


Israel Cannan


Ben Milliken


Debra Ades


Rebecca Breeds


Gigi Edgley


Joy Smithers


Jaymes Triglone


Woody Naismith


Zachary Garred


Scott Campbell


Anthony Hayes


You're only young forever once.


Official Website:
Official site|
Official site [Japan]|

Release Date: 1 May 2009

Filming Locations: Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Technical Specs


(European Film Market)

User Review

Bold film-making that's totally unexpected

Rating: 9/10

Once in a while a film comes along which tries to be bold, daring, and
provocative while still retaining enough "warm and fuzzy' to appeal to
American audiences. The result is usually a self-indulgent train wreck
that smacks of too many engineers in the locomotive. First time
writer/director Dan Castle attempts it in "Newcastle," and the result
will leave audiences wide-eyed with amazement.

The setting is a section of Australia flanked by the sound of heavy
industry on one side and the crash of some of the best waves in the
world on the other. It is here that a complex family drama is played
out, with three brothers caught in a struggle for individual freedom
and respect from each other. Older brother Victor has seen his
championship surfing days come and go, so it's no wonder he harbors
some resentment towards his 17-year-old brother Jesse, on the rise to
becoming a champion himself. Jesse's twin brother Fergus throws
everyone for a loop with his ever-changing hair color and enigmatic
personality. Dad tries to hold it all together but, like any working
class parent, struggles to find the time to even be present enough to
make a difference. An assortment of surfer guys and gals adds even more
peer pressure, and what starts out as a beach outing becomes a defining
moment for everyone.

That said, "Newcastle" is anything but a film about surfing. Yes, it
was a requirement that the actors be able to surf, but most young
Australians do anyway. So casting was not a problem. And it's this
brilliant ensemble cast that makes the multi-layered narrative work so
well. Themes of parental responsibility, sibling rivalry, and unspoken
sexuality revolve around a gritty coming-of-age story which,
ultimately, is really more about brotherly love than anything else.

The story's true focus is on the relationships among the young men,
specifically the two younger brothers and their feelings towards each
other, their parents, their mates, and their girls, or guys, as the
case may be. It's always hard to single anyone out in an ensemble cast
but this film touches the heart more than anything by the performances
of Lachlan Buchanan and Xavier Samuel as Jesse and Fergus. Their
relationship is both heartening and heartbreaking in turn, and it only
works because the on screen chemistry is so palpable. Their commanding
presence says that these guys have a bright future in cinema. Reshad
Strik is riveting as the tortured older brother and Shane Jacobson
shines as the father who is the antithesis of the typical American
movie's working class brute of a dad – this guy has the heart of an ox.
Kirk Jenkins (Andy), Ben Milliken (Nathan), and Israel Cannan (Scotty)
are the core of the surfer mates – Cannan provides much of the film's
comic relief (and contributes several songs to the soundtrack). All add
nuances and layers to their characters which surface when one least
expects it.

Production values belie the film's modest budget, with the polished
look of a Hollywood movie from the first to last breaking wave. The
soundtrack is killer, an absolute requirement for any film featuring
competitive sports. Most of all, though, the cinematography is
breathtaking. Richard Michalak's shots of surfers riding the waves,
with his camera looking up from the ocean floor, had me shaking my head
with wonder. It was like nothing I'd ever seen. I avoid spoilers at any
cost but I feel confident in saying that there are several scenes which
will bring tears to your eyes. "Newcastle" sets a new standard for
underwater photography.

Various elements in the film, taken individually, aren't necessarily
anything we haven't seen before. But it's the way Castle integrates
them and the lengths to which he is willing to take them which makes
"Newcastle" so refreshing. There is some content which may be too
uncomfortable for theatergoers who have issues with male nudity and
sexuality. Some scenes will likely have young guys squirming in their
seats. But that didn't happen here at the Tribeca Film Festival
screening, and perhaps America has progressed to the point that we can
appreciate a film which dares to be different.

With "Newcastle," Dan Castle pushes the boundaries of the typical
American coming-of-age slash sports competition film (in this case,
surfing). Perhaps he can do it because it is not, in fact, an American
film at all but hails from Australia. Perhaps he can get away with it
because it wasn't churned out by a Hollywood studio and didn't have the
hand of the usual producers and distributors whose financing would
undoubtedly come with strings attached. Or perhaps it's just because he
had a vision and the tenacity to surround himself with others who
wouldn't compromise. In the end, nothing is as it seems at first
glance. "Newcastle" is a totally unexpected film at a time when there
are far too few.