Film: The New Boy




Warwick Thornton’s impressive new film, The New Boy, is memorable not only for its powerful tale of clashing Christian and Aboriginal spirituality but also for its magnificent cinematography.

Thornton has been recognised as one of Australia’s most important film directors since his Samson and Delilah (2009), the poignant story of two petrol-sniffing Aboriginal teenagers.

The New Boy hangs on the shoulders of  young indigenous Australian, Aswan Reid, a talented 11 year-old who appears in almost every scene.



In the striking opening sequence ,the boy is somewhere in the Australian outback, desperately running from a policeman on horseback. He is caught, of course, and bundled struggling into a sack, to be dumped in the middle of the night at a Catholic mission run by a conflicted nun, Sister Eileen,  played by Cate Blanchett.

“Watch him,” she is told. “He’s a bolter.”

Sister Eileen has her own problems. She is hiding the death of the mission’s founder, Dom Peter, forging his signature when supplies arrive and lying to visitors. Torn between the guilt of telling lies and the need to continue God’s work of running the mission, she confesses regularly over Dom Peter’s new grave.

There is an immediate bond between Sister Eileen and the new boy, who remains nameless and silent, speaking only two words in the entire film.



She is determined to save his soul, and he is steeped in Aboriginal mysticism. He follows her everywhere, but, unsure as he is of his new surroundings, he holds his own when other boys at the mission try to bully him.

The film is set in the 1940s during World War II and a historic carved wooden crucifix arrives in a large crate, sent from Europe to keep it safe from the fighting. When the crucifix is mounted on the chapel wall the boy is mesmerised at the sight of the tortured Christ figure, its hands pierced by metal bolts.

As he absorbs more of this strange new world, can he keep the connection to his Aboriginal traditions?



The film’s terrific cast includes Deborah Mailman as the gentle Sister Mum and Wayne Blair as George the groundskeeper.

Thornton is again the cinematographer, as he been since Samson and Delilah, and his striking scenes of Australia’s vast outback are unforgettable.

To add to the depth of this fine film there is a beautiful score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.

The New Boy opens on Thursday, July 6, at Luna Leederville, Luna On SX and The Windsor, with advance screenings from Friday, June 30, to Sunday, July 2.


Watch the trailer…



One thought on “Film: The New Boy

  1. Wow, can’t wait to see this and will @ Luna On SX in Freo.
    Thornton is brilliant and Blanchett my favourite Australian actor.

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