Writer-director Welby Ings’ very personal feature debut tells the story of a seventeen-year-old boxer (Jordan Oosterhof) in a small town who prepares for a fight that will elevate him to an early professional status. But his father (Tim Roth) is a demanding coach and a notorious alcoholic.
As Jim begins to rethink why he is fighting, his life tangles with a razor-tongued, gay Maori boy (Conan Hayes), who spends his days in a beach shack cobbling together a fragile glamour and dreams of becoming a musician. Away from the rainbow flags and Pride parades, Jim and Whetu must navigate isolation, hypocrisy, the brutality of small-town boxing, and queer bashing that no one will talk about. As Jim stumbles towards discovering what it really is to be a gay man, he is forced to understand that strength has little to do with heroism.
“It’s a rough and raw morality, matched by Ing’s unfussy direction, which serves to focus on the main characters and their inner turmoil. Sure, there are a few boys-to-men and queer coming-of-age movie clichés at play, but these never overwhelm a narrative that remains, at heart, a tender love story between two outsiders in a community stuck firmly in its parochial, patriarchal past.” ~Adam Fresco, Flicks