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TIFF 2023: “The New Boy”


Rating: 3 out of 5.

The issue of racial discrimination has sadly come full circle when we realize that some individuals harbor deeply ingrained racism and hatred towards those who they perceive as unequal to them. However, there are courageous individuals who defy the societal norms imposed by the powerful. But can their efforts truly protect those who are less privileged?

Set in the dark and narrow-minded Australia of the 1940s, where the primary objective is to target ‘the blacks’ and Aboriginals, a young unnamed boy (Aswan Reid) finds himself in a fight for survival. Abducted by the police, he is dispatched to a remote rural monastery led by Sister Eileen, portrayed by Cate Blanchett. The monastery serves as a refuge for abandoned children. The new boy does not speak English, posing a significant communication challenge for everyone around him. Nevertheless, his enduring charm and ability to connect with others make him stand out. What’s more, the boy possesses a remarkable power to heal. Sister Eileen’s initial aim is to convert him to Christianity, but in reality, it is the boy who has the ability to transform anyone into a compassionate and caring human being.

Sister Eileen is a charismatic woman, but her religious convictions are as unyielding as bricks. However, writer-director-cinematographer Warwick Thornton skillfully shapes her character by illustrating a poignant clash between Religion and Culture, revealing what both can contribute to forging connections beyond the confines of societal expectations. From beginning to end, it is a poignant narrative of connection, generosity, and altruism. It is the story of two unlikely souls who must navigate the known and unknown realms within themselves to craft a new world—a world where they can coexist without prejudice.

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