Three boys with different dreams, representing three aspects of
contemporary aboriginal youth. Lorrpu (Pilakui) seeks a balance between both cultures, with the emphasis on his indigenous heritage...Milika (Daniels) embraces the 'balanda' culture, and its footy, chicks and rap music with open arms...and Botj (Mununggur), represents the ultimate tragedy of his kind - seduced by the destructive elements of white man's world which is progressively pulling him away form what was once a strong boy-hood connection to his Yolngu roots.They have been friends since childhood, and "Yolngu Boy" tells of the journey into manhood the three take together - a journey that will require a combination of their knowledge of both cultures, and that will lead them respectfully onto their own personal destinies.
This is the first feature shot entirely in the Northern Territory with a nearly entirely indigneous cast, the only exception being several 'white' extras and a cameo by Jack Nicholson as the arm of white man law.
The thing that will strike most about "Yolngu Boy" is that it doesn't seek to 'point the bone' at anyone - it is not about recriminations or blaming white man for the 'plight' of indigeneous peoples – and neither does it glamourise or seek to further polticise the state of white/indigenous relations.
There is often a 'doco' style feel to the film, and it would be difficult to leave the cinema without some better understanding of modern indigenous culture and the issues surrounding it. At times, the plot is a little thin and given it contains a mostly 'untried' cast, it is difficult to judge the film on its acting merits. Having said this though, the energy and charisma of the actors, especially the three leads, is admirable and compelling, and where the emotional depth is lacking in terms of performance, it is made up for in raw energy and truth. Certain scenes stand out - Batj's sniffing episodes, the flashbacks and the "Ruwu" dreamtime scenes in particular were well put together.
The photography is excellent, capturing some great shots of the Northern Territory and the soundtrack is woven skilfully around the action.Overall, the film accomplishes what it sets out to in representing the particular dilemmas of indigenous youth in an honest and palatable way. One would hope it will open up projects of a similar nature and integrity.