'Boys In The Trees': A Coming-Of-Age Film That Will Take You Back

A tale of friendship steeped in '90s Australia nostalgia.

20/10/2016 7:18 AM AEDT | Updated 20/10/2016 7:18 AM AEDT
Raw, angsty first love.

Every so often a movie comes out and it takes you somewhere magically familiar.

In the case of "Boys in the Trees", that wondrous place is Australian suburbia circa 1997.

Following its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival where it received not one, but two standing ovations, the coming of age story is already being compared to timeless classics like "Stand By Me" and "Donnie Darko."

The story centres around Corey (Toby Wallace), Jango (Justin Holborow) and their skater gang, The Gromits. It's Halloween and the last night of high school when Corey encounters Jonah (Gulliver McGrath), a former childhood friend who is bullied by The Gromits.

Corey, Jango and 'The Gromits.'

The ex-friends decide to walk home for old time's sake before embarking on a journey that takes them to a darker, mystical place where they draw on their dreams, fears and memories. Suddenly, Corey realises how much he still has in common with his abandoned friend.

It is the first feature film from Australian director and writer, Nicholas Verso who wanted to create something first and foremost for the Australian youth.

"I really felt that in Australia we just weren't capturing stories for young people -- our industry has neglected them lately -- so this one was definitely for them," Verso told The Huffington Post Australia.

Watch the trailer below.

Verso grew up with films like "Breakfast Club", "Empire Records" and "The Craft" which explains why he gravitated towards this particular era and an all-teen ensemble at grips with saying good-bye to the safety of childhood while dealing with the realities of adulthood, including death.

"There is a real sweetness and naivety about the youth of the 90s. Teenagers today are growing up in such a different world," Verso said.

"They've got so much information at their disposal, so much technology and in a way, have had their innocence taken away from them. For me, it was about capturing that innocence and bringing to life the time when it still existed," Verso said.

Toby Wallace as Corey.

Verso said it's a film he hopes resonates not only with those who grew up during this time but teenagers of today and anyone who never quite found their "pack" in high school.

"And we've all had that one friend who we didn't say good-bye to, and this film explores that," Verso said.

It wouldn't be a teen flick without some romance and lead heroine Romany, played by Mitzi Ruhlmann, perfectly encapsulates that riot girl energy of the 90s.

Mitzi Ruhlmann as Romany.

"Courtney Love, PJ Harvey and Tori Amos -- they were these wild women who were really great role models -- they did their own thing and didn't give a f**k about anything," Verso said.

Ruhlmann auditioned via Skype and it was a no-brainer for Verso then and there that she play Romany, the only female character in the film.

"I always felt really bad that there was only one female in the script so I said if there's only going to be one female character then she's got to be the smartest person in the film," Verso said.

"Romany has her own journey -- she's not after acceptance or approval from anyone -- especially not men," Verso said.

Corey and Romany.

As well as a stellar young cast, the soundtrack is literally a time machine back to the time of Rage, tattoo choker necklaces and Globe skate shoes.

Verso, who has a side-hustle as a DJ gets that '90s music transcends and pushed for a select list of songs from the beginning including Garbage, Yoko Ono, Spiderbait and Bush's Glycerine.

"Normally when I know I'm about to write a film, the first thing I do is create a playlist. I listen to the music to work out the rhythm and the tone of the film," Verso said.

The result is a film that pinpoints the inevitable crossroads every teen experiences when their naivety is hijacked by the real world -- a world that's big and not always fair -- but mostly, a world they never knew before.

"Boys in the Trees" is in cinemas October 20.

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