It’s 5:49 pm
When Dollar Tree had their last DVD sale,they featured quite a few more major studio titles then they usually do. Most of the times,we see a ton of direct to DVD releases or a ton of small indie releases. I have gotten quite a few fun and unexpected gems for a Dollar Tree sale.
But as mentioned this sale was full of “Rush Hour 3” and “Spider-Man 3” type of releases as well as a smattering of newer releases like “Mitty” and “Shark Night”. Fun stuff and actually titles you don’t see out in the wild unless you are at a yard sale (or boot sale). Finding any indie films took a little more effort to find as I went to three different Dollar Trees in search of these movies.
Like “Wet Bum”,which was later re-titled “Surfacing”. This,like just about every indie release I get are complete blind buys,I know nothing about the movie. I may know a random actor’s name but for the most part,I don’t. I read the back of the DVD,see if it won any awards at the festivals they played it and if it catches it my eye,for a 1.00,I’ll buy it. I have to say that I have enjoyed about 95% of the movies I have bought from the Dollar Tree. “Surfacing” is a prime example of finding a unexpected gem with a very interesting cast.
“Surfacing” is set in a small city in Canada and opens with 14 year old freshman Sam (Julia Sarah Stone) is swimming during a Lifeguard training class. She enjoys the peace from being under the water where she likes the quiet.
When Sam pops up,she sees the other girls in her class have taken all of her clothes and she is forced to call her mom to come get her. Sam is being bullied at her school because she very small and a little underdeveloped,it has gotten so bad that she refuses to dress in the locker room and keeps her bathing suit on underneath her street clothes.
Sam also works at a retirement home which her mother runs,Sam is given a set of keys to teach her to be responsible. It’s the first true adult moment of her life.
During the next few months,Sam will experience a whole new world…life,death,vengeance,betrayal,that growing slow is sometimes the best way,regret and love of family. These lessons come hard and fast and from every direction. How does a 14 year old respond to their first love interest? Why is it as teens we won’t listen to our family members when they are only trying to help? I think writer/director Lindsay MacKay has done a wonderful job is showing how a Sam slowly grows stronger and to stand in her own power. MacKay writes smartly and has a very keen insight into what being 14 is like.
That sounds rather easy as we were all 14 once but I know I don’t recall the raw emotions that McKay has written in “Surfacing”. Of course this would all be moot and melodramatic if the casting has been any less then what it was. “Surfacing” is a rare film where EVERY part is seamlessly cast. Credit has to be given to John Buchan and Jason Knight here and that starts with the lead actress who plays Sam,Julia Sarah Stone.
Julia Sarah Stone is Sam. She is very small,has a most interesting face with a small twitch above her right eye (which I’m glad they didn’t edit out) and a lovely smile.
You root hard for Sam as you know what is coming her way but you never want to coddle her growth,she has to learn that life is painful and that even at 14,betrayal,be it by a former best friend or the older boy who showering her with attention. As Sam fumbles her way forward,she learns as also that help,coming from both family and strangers goes a long way into standing and growing. I really liked Julia Sarah Stone and I think her future is very bright.
The supporting cast,led by the veteran character actor Kenneth Welsh as the old man Ed who only wants to go back to his home is also perfect. Ed is no mere codger,he is razor sharp and he KNOWS what people are like and isn’t afraid to express his opinion. His intervention at a critical point in Sam’s life allows Sam to see that not attention is wanted nor is it real. The two,one starting her journey and one almost at the end of his is nicely shown by MacKay.
Sam’s brother Nate (Jamie Johnston) is a scene stealer. Nate is the older brother that really loves his family and has to walk a delicate balance of being the older brother who is “too cool” to be seen with his sister yet at the same time,is always watching out. His attempt to warn Sam about maybe Lukas isn’t the type of guy she needs. What I liked is how Nate is conflicted,he knows Sam is vulnerable but he doesn’t interfere,he says nothing to their mother nor does he confront Lukas,he trusts Sam,more then Sam trusts herself. It’s another strong performance that “Surfacing” features.
Lukas is actually the most puzzling character in the movie….he truly is a bit of a paradox,he has good qualities inside but for some reason he allows his darker side to come forth,he seems like a nice guy but by the end of the movie,we know he isn’t. He has a lot of issues and not a lot of time to reclaim his moral center before he is lost. Its a tough role to play because the character has many different levels but as played by Craig Arnold,Lukas is shown for what he could be,right or wrong.
And Leah Pinsent is lovely as Sam’s loving mother,Mary Ellen. I found myself wishing that MacKay has explored their relationship just a little more because when Sam strikes out at her family,its the only moment of “Surfacing” that feel forced.
Diana LeBlanc has a small but important role as Judith who is the first person to start helping Sam see the world around is much more then being quiet and unnoticed under water and shows her how fragile life can be.
I think “Surfacing” is thoughtful,engaging and very honest. It’s a beautiful coming of age film that I think every 14 year old,boy or girl should watch. In fact,parents should watch it with their kids and have a Questions and Answer discussion afterwards.
“Surfacing” is unrated but should be considered PG-13 for language and one act of violence. It has a run time of 98 minutes and has no special features other then its trailer.
I recently reviewed another film that features a “coming of age” story that you may like to read as well and you can by going here “Summer of 42”
The cheetah and I both thought “Surfacing” is a great film and we give it two thumbs/4 paws up. And remember the name Julia Sarah Stone.
What “coming of age” story has moved you the most? We want to know….drop a comment below.