Film Review: Aussie coming-of-age flick Bilched hits all the right notes

Hal Thomas is finishing school and he’s ready for a monster night out with his friends. Sure, he’s been uninvited from the party, the girl he likes just wants to be mates, and he’s got a massive NADA audition coming up, but that’s not about to stop him. Turn up the Dune Rats, roll another joint, and watch out for those dickheads from Stox!

Bilched is a distinctly Aussie coming of age story, written by and starring Indigenous teen Hal Cumpston. Soon to be seen in AMC’s The Walking Dead, Cumpston heads up a cast of brilliant young actors, supported a script that’s tight, funny, and wonderfully authentic.

It is, of course, rooted in the genre. There’s house parties while parents are out of town, awkward sexual encounters, a school nerd getting drunk for the first time, and an attempt to buy booze while underage. And someone, almost inevitably, ends up in a pool. It’s a formula that when it works, works well, and it certainly works here, speaking to the appeal Bilched will (hopefully) have outside of Australia.

But with a Sydney suburb setting, where rising house prices have created a divide between long term residents and well off new arrivals, there’s an edge to it that’s uniquely Aussie. It’s no surprise that we root for Hal, Matt, and the footy boys over the polo shirt wearing Stox kids, but there’s also a wonderful moment of reconciliation between the two warring teenage tribes, as Ella, a self-described Eastern Suburbs Princess, and Hal agree to lay off each other a little.

Bilched is peppered with moments like this, scenes that look – outwardly – unimportant, but are in fact crucial to character development. Nothing really happens, yet, to these kids, everything does. Comparisons to Superbad will be inevitable, but Bilched sidesteps the sheer ridiculousness of its predecessor, and it’s a stronger film for it. Hal comes of age through encounters that are immediately relatable, ones that will have school-leavers feeling a little less alone, and the rest of us nodding in happy recognition. There’s no Molotov cocktails thrown here – the humble egg is the Bilched weapon of choice.

Backed by a soundtrack straight off of triple j, Bilched will reach both the kids trying to navigate the post high school world and the adults who’ve done it all before. Funny, relatable, and genuine, it’s a must watch Aussie release, from an exciting new talent. Catch it in cinemas now!

Originally published by The AU Review on 22/11/19
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