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Bring the Boy Back Home [Gilbert Patten-Elliott, New Zealand, 2020]

Bring the Boy Back Home, written and directed by the young Gilbert Patten-Elliott, has its heart in the right place. And that is so reassuring, especially from the younger generation. Patten-Elliott has stated that the film is about youth, male responsibility, and learning from mistakes, but it is also about so much more; it is about inclusivity and a healthy representation of female characters on screen.

Dom and Gen are recent graduates who decide to help a drunk first year student, and are the type of youth we want for our tomorrow – compassionate, ready to learn from mistakes, willing to take a challenge and stand up for the right thing, and most importantly, human. The title of the film works on two levels: the boy who must be brought home because he is drunk, and the boy who must be brought home because he is unaware of his responsibilities.

This is a story with a beautiful message, but it does falter a bit on that ground – the message comes across stronger than the story element, and it does have a preachy feel. The performances are decent and one hopes that these youngsters will only improve with time. Janhavi Gosabi (who plays Gen) is impressive and one hopes she will hone her skills and ready herself for the big screen. The film is shot outdoors and during the night, making lighting challenging, but the team manages it well enough. A word must also be said for the brilliant use of music, composed by Wellington based artists. New Zealand’s capital is captured well, but one is left feeling that more could have been done with it.

As a first, self-funded film, it is encouraging that the film is honest, with its multicultural production and a story with a heart. One can only look forward with hope that these young filmmakers will create stronger storylines while still being the much-needed messengers of humanity.


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