An Australian high schooler dreams of making his life in music. In fact, Tommy daydreams in music, mentally creating orchestral performances out of the sounds that surround him - such unlikely noises as post-hole diggers in the rugged Outback and construction site clamor. As Broken Hill enacts these imaginings, we experience the artistic beauty that inspires Tommy.
Reviews by KIDS FIRST! film critics Gabriella Chu (age 14) and Raven Sky Devanney (age 13) share how well Broken Hill connects with its audience. “I love this movie because it is very creative. I never heard someone play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” so authentically until I heard Tommy and the inmates improvise with the song and make it sound so awesome by using all kinds of instruments - from buckets to violins. The final piece Tommy’s band plays is also excellent,” says Gabriella. Below are the full reviews from both teens.
Broken Hill is a wonderful movie. The first few minutes of the movie instantly capture my attention! It tells the story of a teenage boy named Tommy (played by Luke Arnold) who dreams of starting a band to get into music school but is distracted from his goal because he likes a girl in his class named Kat (played by Alexa Vega), and he is also discouraged by his father. Tommy and Kat end up doing community service at a jail after they pull a juvenile prank and get caught by the police. The two do not get along initially, but they gradually become friends and form an original band with the prison inmates. Is Tommy’s band good enough to get him into the Sydney Conservatory music school? You have to watch this movie for yourself!
I love this movie because it is very creative. I never heard someone play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” so authentically until I heard Tommy and the inmates improvise with the song and make it sound so awesome by using all kinds of instruments — from buckets to violins. The final piece Tommy’s band plays is also excellent. I think the original music by Christopher Brady and the orchestrator David Long are fantastic! I also like how director Dagen Merrill shows how Tommy hears music everywhere. Just by listening to things in nature such as grasshoppers, the wind, and rivers, in the middle of the Australian desert, Tommy can replace these normal noises with the sounds of instruments to compose a beautiful symphony in his mind. I am impressed at the way the director made this comparison.
It is difficult for me to hear everything the actors are saying because most of them have an Australian accent. Other than that, I think this is a great movie. I would recommend it to children ages 11 and up because the movie contains some deep messages that may be hard for younger kids to understand, such as music can be found everywhere and music can lift anyone’s spirits. This movie will suit most viewers, especially those who are interested in music.
For Tommy, the prison band seems his last chance to put together the audition performance he needs to get into the prestigious music conservatory, though he keeps his goal a secret from everyone but his private music maestro. The prisoners are not so enthusiastic at first about the band, but are persuaded to participate by another inmate, Kalai, who seemingly feels he owes Tommy for an earlier act of kindness. There are many strands of relationships that develop around Tommy, as KIDS FIRST! film critic Raven Sky Devanney shares:
Broken Hill is an amazing movie about a boy from Australia who wants to become a composer but his father disapproves, so he makes a band with local prisoners.
I really really like this film. It is funny and touching and super great! The cinematography was nice and it is pretty funny in the beginning when Tommy is imagining the orchestra.
I really enjoyed watching the relationship grow between Kat and Tommy throughout the film. My favorite character is the drumming prisoner because he was clueless and hilarious.
I was really shocked, in the end, after Kalai escaped and there was no closure between him and Tommy. It left me wanting more.
This film is for ages 12 and up because it is a little mature for younger kids. Broken Hill is a great movie for teens. I give this film a thumbs up!
Released for home viewing by E One Entertainment, Broken Hill is available on DVD May 17.
Photos, from top to bottom: Broken Hill, Gabriella Chu, Raven Sky Devanney