Cedar Boys 2009 | Movies

Posted on April 3, 2010. Filed under: Crime, Drama |

Cedar Boys doesn’t pull any punches. The chaotic, carefully scripted world of Sydney youth culture as seen from the viewpoints of the three protagonists flaunts a heavy hip-hop & techno soundtrack to match the cars, clubs and drugs that are so prevalent in the city we live in. It’s confronting for the audience to step into so vividly – not simply because the potrayal is so real, so close to home – but because it’s a world that the majority of Sydneysiders never acknowledge. You could almost hear the shifting seats in the cinema as the story unfolded on our very streets.

Sydney’s always been a city divided by wealth. More recently we’ve seen these divisions multiply to encompass racial and cultural gaps as well (witness Cronulla 2005) – as what goes normally unsaid flares up – we suffer gang warfare, hate crimes and a systematic dumbing down by a generally witless media offering Black & White solutions to endemic cultural and economic problems.

Writer & Director Serhat Caradee has no qualms diving into discuss the complexity of these issues through his narrative. The Cedar Boys of the film could be any working class kids; but the fact they’re second generation immigrants who speak Arabic at home and try as they might, can’t fake the relaxed & comfortable confidence of the whitefolk to fit in – highlights the struggle to break out of their tax brackets. Not that they’re apologetic about being of Lebanese background in the slightest. Nor should they be – some of the best moments of dialogue come from the distinct pride and irreverence shown in the face of stereotypes – especially early in the film, lending Tarek, Sam & Nabil a cheeky larrikinism that can only be described as distinctly Australian.

There are some real laugh out loud moments here in what is a heartfelt story of mateship, loyalty and the pain of wanting to be a part of something bigger. The film takes on some heavy themes and carries itself with a respectable swagger, unafraid to throw its weight around to flip an issue on its side. At the same time it also takes time to pause and reflect on who these people really are, their family life, the day-to-day stuff that may not have great bearing on the plot but still brings a powerful payoff for the journey of the film. It’s an excellent technique for what could easily fall into the trap of action-action-action as the stakes get higher.

It’s an ensemble piece lead by Les Chantery, Waddah Sari & Buddy Dannoun but even the minor roles and cameos are very strong. It’s an engrossing film experience, with some minor flaws in the staging or storyline like the bizarre placement of Ian Roberts as a nightclub bouncer and one or two loose ends for characters left unresolved. I wanted to see more of Rachael Taylor’s journey as (without giving too much away) her character Amie was left on an interesting precipice. But these issues are incidental on the whole. It draws you in and keeps you there until the end and that’s a credit to the cast and crew.

I should mention for full disclosure that I have known the writer and director of Cedar Boys Serhat Caradee since his days emerging at AFTRS, so I had some big expectations for his debut feature (glad to say they were met and then some). Although I haven’t seen him in about seven years I now know why. He’s been working on the film. It shows.





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