GO!, Australia, 2020. Starring William Lodder, Richard Roxburgh, Frances O'Connor, Anastasia Bampos, Dan Wyllie, Cooper van Grootel, Damien de Montemas, Darius Amarfio Jefferson. Directed by Owen Trevor. 102 minutes, Rated PG (Mild Coarse Language)
Certainly an energetic title. And, in fact, this is quite an energetic film. It is a film designed for the family, youngsters enjoying the action, teenagers identifying with the central characters, some tough family situations, some valuable lessons in understanding oneself, the role of parents, the role of mentors.
This is a film from Western Australia, very proud of its locations, promoting state and national Go-Kart competitions. Starring as the mother is Frances O’Connor whose family migrated to Western Australia where she grew up. The film is a kind of welcome home to her. The other adult star of the film is Richard Roxburgh, the veteran driver who is rather disillusioned, disappointed in life, running a Go-Kart track and being challenged to become a mentor.
But, it is the teenagers that we focus on. Jack (William Lodder, in his only role so far) arrives with his widowed mother and precious memories of time with his dead father, into the small town of Busselton where his mother intends to set up a shop as Well Is renovate a house for their home – which she does. In the meantime, she urges Jack to go to a party, a party for Mandy (Anastasia Bampos also her only role so far) at the track. He meets a young aboriginal friend, Colin Darius Amarfio Jefferson), who is bullied by Mandy’s brother and some of the locals.
Jack immediately wants to participate in the race, full of exhilaration. And, this is his story, plenty of ups, plenty of downs, the kind of issues familiar from this kind of film where we know, ultimately, he will be successful.
While Richard Roxburgh as Patrick acts in an expected way, he is still different, reluctant to help Jack, not wanting any backchat, getting him to do menial jobs and repaying him with rides around the track. Eventually, there are many scenes of training and wise advice for those contemplating a Go-Kart amateur career or professional career!
The trouble is that Mandy is the daughter of the local entrepreneur whose bullying son assumes that he will be champion. Father and son are chauvinist and ignore Mandy’s talents with machines. Jack doesn’t and she becomes part of the team.
Meanwhile there is a pleasantly awkward romantic set up with the local policeman, inevitably named Barry (Daniel Wyllie) and Jake set setting him up for a date with his mother, much awkwardness and all.
Some of the races don’t go as planned, Jack discovering how stubborn he can be, wanting to beat his rival at all costs – but Patrick explaining anger and “red mist” advising him to count backwards from five in order to clear his vision and motivation.
In many ways, this is a formula film (whatever formula number Go-Kart racing has) but, the plot and the performances are much better than usual, meaning that even elderly audiences might be drawn in to enjoy a family outing.
Roadshow Released January 16th
Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.