Apparently, in the '80s, some fly-by-night pilot left a surfboard behind on the beach in a small Papuan village, and, this being the unpaved, undeveloped land of cargo cults, the mysterious artifact bloomed into a 21st-century cultural obsession. The best film ever made about competitive surfing in Papua New Guinea (and Best Documentary of the year as per Surfer Magazine), Adam Pesce's film positively saunters into Vanimo, where it seems the non-elderly inhabitants are all Jamie Foxx–Jada Pinkett beautiful and are all unabashed about opening their guileless lives to the camera. The surfing bug grips the community, as rival surf clubs engage in spurts of grass-hut espionage on their way to a national contest and try to gain recognition from Aussie media. The real challenges, however, are not tubular—Pesce does not shy away from palm-frond gorgeousness, but just when you're thinking about tropical paradise, the realities of poverty and underdevelopment move in, and it becomes apparent that the sport is viewed by everyone as just a way out. The Papuans smile, but their lives are slowly revealed as subsistence dead ends, with plenty of alcoholism and wife-beating, and the staring out to sea is about more than the waves.
Get the Film & TV Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.
More Film News
- For 'Chi-Raq,' His Best in Years, Spike Lee Looks to the Ancients
- Incisive and Funny, ‘The Lady in the Van’ Doesn’t Stink at All
- Songbirds Are Dying Worldwide, and New Doc ‘The Messenger’ Warns That We’re Next
- Grisly, Propulsive Revenge Thriller ‘The World of Kanako’ Will Make You Feel for a Monster