Review: Blueback


It is Abby’s 8th birthday. Her mother exclaims, “You know what that means!” They go out into the bay in their speedboat and Mom tosses a special ring overboard. Abby seems hesitant and scared. With just a snorkel, her mother expects her to follow the anchor chain down to the seabed to find and collect the ring.

Abby’s dad had died in a diving accident when she was around a year old. She and her mom, who is dedicated to the preservation and health of her bay’s sea life, live isolated in a cute bungalow atop a promontory overlooking the Australian Bay they love. Abby is not only her mom’s best friend but her adventurous swimming partner. It is her mother who encourages her bravery and passion for the sea.

But when it comes time for Abby to go to college, where she knows she can learn important ways to save the entire world’s oceans, her mother is upset. She doesn’t want to let go. It is so hard, especially since Abby will be going to school away from Australia.

The film actually began with underwater scenes of sea turtles, corals and all kinds of fish when we first met Abby, grown up and the boss of a marine boat out on a mission to document sea health and alert others about where help is needed. Then she got a special call from a hospital telling her that her mother, back in Australia, has had a stroke and can’t speak.

She knows she must leave her ship immediately. We soon understand that Abby left home for school and followed her passion for the sea, not returning. But the sudden pull and weight of the call takes precedence over everything else.

There are three parallel themes in “Blueback” that emotionally hit hard. First, Abby’s formative relationship with her mother, which forms her foundational character and passion for the sea. Second is the importance of ecology, safeguarding the water and its life forms as well as humans. And third is Abby’s eventual relationship, both real and metaphorical, with Blueback, an enormous blue groper that can live up to 70 years in the bay where she grew up.

I loved this film and have been telling everyone I’ve met recently about it. A brilliantly-crafted story with magically gorgeous cinematography, “Blueback” deals in the essential: what gives us life, gives us meaning and gives us love.

Directed by Robert Connolly
Writers: Robert Connolly and Tim Winton (based on the book by)
Cast: Eric Bana, Radha Mitchell and Mia Wasikowska
Music: Nigel Westlake
Cinematography: Andrew Commis with underwater cinematography by Rick Rifici
Editing: Nick Meyers

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