A Boy Called Sailboat: Review

A Boy Called Sailboat

By Halli Burton.

If you’re a parent to a small child, then perhaps you have a better chance of enjoying this film. Its narrator is an adorable Hispanic boy, Julian Atocani Sanchez, who shares his story about finding a ‘small guitar’ and the promise he made to his sick abuela (grandma) to write a song for her.

His abuela, unbeknown to his mismatched parents, is the reason why Sailboat has had an obsession with boats since he was a baby, although as far they were concerned he’d never seen one before. She also imparts sayings which the wise-beyond-his years Sailboat uses to explain the unexplainable.

But I digress. There’s something quite moving about watching a film through the eyes of a child. Sailboat’s innocent observations of everyday life are both heartwarming and hilarious: His Dad’s obsession with a stick that holds up their rickety house in what looks like the remotest part of the US of A; his Mum’s love of meatballs; his odd accident-prone school teacher; and his unblinking football fanatic best friend, Peeti, brilliantly portrayed by Keanu Wilson.

With the help of a music lesson CD lent to him by his classmate who has a soft spot for him, Sailboat writes a song, one so magical that whoever hears it is mesmerised and overcome by deeply buried emotions. Not only does the song bring its listeners to tears, it even renders the film’s audio to a long beep until Sailboat plays his last strum! Most importantly, Sailboat’s tune appears to put an end to the enduring drought that was crippling his hometown.

However, despite the commendable performances by the entire cast, unfortunately that’s where the magic ends. A disappointing conclusion given that Sailboat’s tale is so convincing you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’re watching a docu-drama. Kudos to director, Cameron Nugent, for getting Oscar winner J.K. Simmons to star, however small his role might be. Worth mentioning that his brief interaction with Sailboat is delightful.

A Boy Called Sailboat is slow to start and even slower to finish. Should it have been a feature film? No, I don’t think so. It would’ve worked better as a short, which could have easily been achieved by culling several scenes, I won’t go into which ones but they’re glaringly obvious.

I really wanted to love this film and there are several aspects of it that I did thoroughly enjoy, notably the picturesque cinematography, the script and the children. But it’s not enough for me to give it a 5-star rating.

A Boy Called Sailboat is in Digital Download now.

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