Film Review: A Boy Called SailBoat

Cameron Nugent’s A Boy Called Sailboat is a comedy drama that aims for whimsy. The film charms in places.

Young Sailboat lives with his parents on the outskirts of town. When his sick grandmother asks him to write her a song, Sailboat sets about composing on his little guitar. The impact of his song is quite unexpected…

Written and directed by Cameron Nugent, A Boy Called Sailboat is a curious little tale. The film features a real-world setting, although Nugent makes this as offbeat as can be. There is a reach for the whimsical; this pervades the film through the choice of characters, the dialogue, and the setting. There is a feeling that Nugent is aiming for a similar feel to the films of Wes Anderson or early Tim Burton with this ‘abnormal within the normal’ approach. The filmmaker does not reach these giddy heights, although there enough to admire here.

The narrative unfolds at its own pace, telling viewers as much as they need to know about the characters. A Boy Called Sailboat really kicks off when the protagonist begins to compose. Nugent shows a change in the characters that surround Sailboat through actions rather than words overall. Sometimes this is overt for comedic effect, such as the teacher’s immediate change. The subtler change in Sailboat’s father feels more rewarding. As word spreads about Sailboat’s song, it is not clear how the story will conclude. Ultimately, the ending is in keeping with the film’s style, and is satisfying as a result.

Julian Atocani Sanchez is decent as Sailboat, although some of his delivery is unclear. Perhaps this is to be expected with a protagonist so young. Noel Gugliemi is good as José, while J.K. Simmons is always good value, even in this very minor role. The film features a lot of long shots, which emphasise the small stature of the protagonist. It is an effective technique.

A Boy Called Sailboat is a decent directorial debut from Cameron Nugent. The aspects that work well are very admirable.

A Boy Called Sailboat will be available on Digital Download from Monday 6th May 2019.

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