“One day, I found something important…”
So begins Cameron Nugent’s directorial debut, A Boy Called Sailboat, and, as the film comes to its utterly heart-warming conclusion, one cannot help but think it a more fitting introduction.
Our titular character, so-called due to his ability as a toddler to draw highly accurate picture of sailboats, despite never having seen one, lives in a ramshackle house on the edge of the desert with his father, a school janitor who drives a car with no doors and claims to have shot a man when he was just a kid, and his mother who makes the best darn meatballs in the world, but is scared to ever leave the house. His best friend Peeti dreams of playing soccer, but is cursed with the inability to blink. In his little world of misfit characters, Sailboat innocently goes about his business, until one day he finds a “little guitar” by the roadside, a guitar on which his dying abuela tasks him to write her one last song. Thereafter, young Sailboat determines to learn to play, unwittingly changing the lives of those around him with his naïve determination.
Masterfully shot, and with a score made up entirely of guitar standards simply being plucked away in the background, A Boy Called Sailboat is an expertly crafted feat of film-making, tugging on heart-strings and yet never once feeling forced.
Every member of the cast brings something special to the table, with particular mention going to Noel Gugliemi, stepping out of his usual comfort zone to give a truly beautiful portrayal of a father desperate to provide for his family. Elizabeth De Razzo provides a wonderful performance as Sailboat’s mother, touchingly showing her transition from nervous shut-in to not-quite-so-nervous shut-in. Our big name draws are all on-point, with J.K. Simmons as a car salesman and Jake Busey giving what may just be the highlight his career as a hilariously useless elementary school teacher.
The child actors, however, effortlessly steal the show, with Keanu Wilson’s Peeti being a delightful little dweeb without ever feeling stereotyped, and Julien Atocani Sanchez being quite simply perfect as the wide-eyed and innocent Sailboat.
I’ll admit, going in, I didn’t have the highest of hopes for this film; after years of reviewing “The Next Big Indie Film”, I’ve become somewhat disenchanted. By the end, however, I was brought to genuine tears of joy. With all the quirkiness of a Jean-Pierre Jeunet classic, A Boy Called Sailboat is a hilarious and heart-warming tale of love and hope in the unlikeliest of places.
Dir: Cameron Nugent
Prd: Andrew Curry, Richard Gray, Nelson Khoury, Cameron Nugent
Scr: Cameron Nugent
Cast: J.K. Simmons, Jake Busey, Noel Gugliemi, Elizabeth De Razzo, Lew Temple, Julian Atocani Sanchez, Keanu Wilson
DoP: John Garrett
Music: Leonard Grigoryan, Slava Grigoryan
Running time: 92 minutes
A Boy Called Sailboat is available on digital download now.