With endless bad news on TV, I found a lovely escape and a great beginning to the new year when I watched The Rocket, an inspirational Australian film I took out of the West Vancouver Library. I didn’t know what to expect but the cover said it had won a number of awards—turned out to be 28 wins and 28 nominations—and when I checked Rotten Tomatoes, it had received a 98% rating. Impressive.
I’ve seen a lot of films in my life (due largely to my acting and screenwriting ventures), and in fact, have produced a few short ones with my grandson, Michael Stevantoni, who’s won a few awards. I’m in short, a movie buff. Have been since I was dragged to the cinema when I was five. My mother couldn’t get enough of them, so we’d walk close to a mile in Winnipeg in all seasons, as we had no car, and sit through newsreels, cartoons, trailers and two features. Yes, two features.
Rotten Tomatoes is right. The Rocket does not disappoint at any level. It’s a winner from the first frame, when we’re introduced to the lead being born in Laos, one of twins, which apparently in their culture is not a good sign. This fact dogs him throughout the story.
The cinematography of the Laos landscape is stunning, as is the story about this young boy and his family and how they manage to survive when a proposed dam threatens their home and livelihood. The rocket in The Rocket refers to both unexploded mines left from America’s covert war in Laos and a rocket festival, where anyone with the ability to build one that pierces the clouds to bring rain can win a prize beyond their wildest dreams. There is even a wonderful James Brown look-alike character who’s down on his luck but plays a big part in this young child’s life.
Though it was filmed in a foreign culture, the family dynamics between the husband and wife, the child and his parents, the husband and his mother, are universal. The acting is superb and I didn’t detect a false note anywhere.
And as a writer, I welcomed the message in this story. Don’t give up despite the odds!
If you’ve seen this movie, I’d love your thoughts. If you know of another great movie that lifts your spirits, I’d love to hear about it.
Have a great year!