Call it “The Pelican Grief.”
A tenderly retold tale about the healing bond between a lonely Australian boy and the orphaned pelicans he rescues and nurtures to adulthood, Shawn Seet’s “Storm Boy” — a new version of the classic 1976 film — capably weathers the decades, buoyed by a graceful Geoffrey Rush performance.
Building in a multigenerational theme not found in the original production or the 1964 Colin Thiele novella, the updated story (penned by Justin Monjo) is seen through the eyes of Rush’s Michael Kingley, a retired executive increasingly haunted by images of his childhood, raised by his reclusive father (Jai Courtney) along the remote Coorong National Park coastline.
There, the young Michael (played by an equally impressive Finn Little), whose mom and sister died in a car accident, is taught some valuable life lessons through his particular connection to the pelican he names Mr. Percival, one of three whose own mother was shot by hunters.
Steeped in local lore provided by Trevor Jamieson’s Fingerbone Bill, an indigenous Ngarrindjeri with whom Michael also forms a connection, while also tapping several environmental and culturally relevant issues, director Seet’s gorgeously filmed production proves to resonate as much today as it did 40-plus years ago.
At once uplifting and melancholic, it’s the right “Storm Boy” for our turbulent times.
Rating: Rated PG for some thematic elements, mild peril and brief language
Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Playing: Opens April 5, AMC Citywalk 19, Universal City; Laemmle Monica Film Centre, Santa Monica