Opening 17 Jan 2013
Take a simple, familiar story: teenaged boy lives in poor-white-trash household with single, alcoholic, irresponsible mother. Add: friendly neighbor recognizes athletic potential of boy and sets out to support him in his development. It’s all pretty basic, except that in this case it’s the true story of Jay Moriarity who lived in Santa Cruz on the northern coast of California. From 1987 at age nine he was solely interested in surfing the waves of the Pacific. By age 16 he yearned to conquer the big wave – the Maverick – in Half Moon Bay near Santa Cruz, something that even experienced grown-men found challenging. He refused to accept the impossible and, with the guidance of his neighbor Frosty Hesson, a surfer and carpenter and surrogate father who tells him, “hold your breath underwater for four minutes or forget about it,” he accomplishes his dream.
The film ends here, although Jay will be allowed seven more years to enjoy his surfing title. You should research his life for the sad ending, which does not appear in the film as such, although there is a reference and a short appearance of the real Frosty (played here by Gerard Butler). What makes the film unique is the doggedness with which Moriarity plugs along, learning by doing, as well as the breath-taking scenes of gorgeous men coming into view through 40-meter high waves, surfing at night, turning 180-degree angles and generally conjuring surfing into a magnificent, on-going water ballet. The film resembles Soul Surfer in its spirituality, connections, single-mindedness and grand finale, although it refrains from spreading on the religious proselytizing which makes Soul Surfer so maddening. Jay Moriarity became an example to many who followed in his footsteps. Filmed on location in Santa Cruz (including a thousand Santa Cruz locals in a final scene) and Half Moon Bay California, as well as Mexico and Hawaii. Newcomer Jonny Weston convinces as Jay; he even rides the waves himself – no double for him. (Becky Tan)