This film from Australia has at least four things that make it worth recommending. First it’s the directing debut by Simon Baker. We know him from American TV but he’s originally from down under and clearly has strong feelings for this story. It is from a popular novel by Tim Winton about two youngsters growing up. Winton himself narrates, just like in his book which is a long look back at youthful discoveries. Third, the two are played by first-time actors, Samson Coulter and Ben Spence, chosen for their surfing abilities but doing fine naturalistic acting here. And finally, the surfing. This film has some of the most exciting wave riding I’ve ever seen in a movie.

But the heart of the film is the friendship between the danger-testing Loonie (Spence) and the generally sensible Pikelet (Coulter). “We imagined ourselves into a different life,” he says via narration. A bike ride to the coast lets them see surfing in action which he calls “beautiful but pointless and elegant.” They get into with enthusiasm, first on Styrofoam boards, and then on wooden ones bought from a beach hippie type (played by Simon Baker) who turns out to have been a world class surfer and now lives quietly with a wife (Elizabeth Debicki) who was a free style skier until an injury stopped her.  The boys learn from them to take bigger and bigger chances, especially Loonie who “did it harder like someone who didn’t believe in death.” The film is very evocative about coming of age, time with friends and daring to push yourself. And then there are those great surfing scenes.

Read more here.