Bosch & Rockit
This tender Australian drama about a father and son on the run pairs Luke Hemsworth with one of the country's certain rising stars.
August 18, 2022
Remember the name Rasmus King. Based on 2022's slate of Australian films and television shows, that shouldn't be hard. The Byron Bay-born newcomer hadn't graced a screen, large or small, before this year — and now he has no fewer than four projects pushing him into the spotlight before 2023 arrives. Most, including surfing TV drama Barons, capitalise upon the fact that he's a pro on the waves IRL. Two, 6 Festivals and the upcoming sci-fi featurette What If The Future Never Happened?, get his long blonde locks whipping through the Australian music scene. The latter is based on Daniel Johns' teenage years, actually, and has King playing that pivotal part. If he's half as impressive in the role as he is in father-son drama Bosch & Rockit, Silverchair fans will have plenty to look to forward to.
When writer/director Tyler Atkins opens his debut feature, it's in the late 90s, along Australia's east coast, and with King as eager surfer Rockit — son to weed farmer Bosch (Luke Hemsworth, Westworld). Sometimes, the titular pair hit the surf together, which sees Rockit's eyes light up; however, Bosch is usually happy tending to his illicit business, making questionable decisions, and coping with splitting from his son's mother Elizabeth (Leeanna Walsman, Eden) with the help of other women. Then a couple of unfortunate twists of fate upend Rockit's existence, all stemming from his father. Begrudgingly, Bosch is pushed into stepping outside his drug-growing comfort zone by an old friend-turned-cop (Michael Sheasby, The Nightingale) and his corrupt partner (Martin Sacks, Buckley's Chance). When a bushfire sweeps through the region shortly afterwards, he's forced to go on the run to stay alive.
Bosch & Rockit approaches Bosch's absconding from Rockit's perspective, adopting the line that the former gives his boy: that they're going to Byron for an extended holiday. Atkins doesn't feed the same idea to its audience, but ensures that viewers understand why a bright-eyed teenager would take his dad at his word — not just because he doesn't know what Bosch does for a living, which he doesn't; or he's naïve, which he is; but also because he's eager to hang onto his biggest dream. There's sorrow in King's spirited performance, with Rockit more affected by his parents' split, bullying at school and the isolation that comes with finding solace in the sea, usually alone, than Bosch has the shrewdness to spot. There's earnestness as well, because what struggling kid who's desperate for the kind of love that genuine attention signifies, as Rockit visibly is, won't blindly believe whatever fantasy their dad or mum sells them for as long as possible?
King does a magnetic job of conveying Rockit's inner turmoil, and expressing his uncertainty, too. There's an effortlessness to his portrayal, whether Rockit is lapping up Bosch's presence like a plant swaying towards the sunlight, listlessly left to his own devices when his dad decides he'd rather chase Byron local Deb (Isabel Lucas, That's Not Me), or finding a kindred spirit in Ash (Savannah La Rain, Surviving Summer), another restless and yearning teen vacationing under less-than-ideal circumstances and feeling like she's alone in the world. Avoiding formulaic plotting isn't Bosch & Rockit's strong suit, however, as the film makes plain at every turn. That's evident in both of its namesakes' trajectories, for starters — with Bosch a small-time crim falling afoul of the wrong people, with help from bad luck, then trying to start anew; and Rockit an innocent kid stuck with subpar parents, forced to grow up faster than he should, but hanging onto whatever he can.
When a wave tumbles over a surfer's head, crashing towards the shore, it's both a new revelation and a routine occurrence every single time — and, as well as showing that sight whenever Rockit takes to the ocean, aka frequently, that's also how Bosch & Rockit feels. The depths in its two central performances, Hemsworth's included, can't completely sweep aside the film's well-worn storyline, but the feature's sincerity goes a long way. A movie can be sentimental and still ring true, too, which this repeatedly does. Knowing that you're having your heartstrings pulled isn't just blatant, but almost instantaneous, and yet this tender tale is still easy to drift along with.
While King proves Bosch & Rockit's biggest asset, Hemsworth's impact can't be underestimated — and shows why he has never just been "the other Hemsworth". Like his brothers, his early career weaved through local soaps (Neighbours in his case, which Chris and Liam also popped up on), plus other Aussie TV series (including Blue Heelers, All Saints and Tangle). As his siblings are, he's now best-known for his overseas success, with Westworld forever altering his resume as the Thor franchise has for Chris and The Hunger Games did for Liam. Here, there's a weight and texture to Luke's empathetic work as the well-meaning, perennially hapless Bosch that ranks it among his best, and is crucial to the film. Atkins also ensures that his audience understands why Rockit wants to be with his charismatic yet careening dad, even when he does know better. Indeed, scenes where Hemsworth and King banter, whether slinging the most Aussie curse-filled exchanges each other's way or bickering in public, are among Bosch & Rockit's standouts.
It's lucky that its key duo bring so much to their portrayals; elsewhere, Bosch & Rockit is undeniably scenic, but never surprising. Often, Ben Nott's (How to Please a Woman) cinematography looks like a postcard — especially when the picture lingers on the obvious shots, such as the famous Cape Byron Lighthouse, or loiters on dolphins and whales while its characters frolic along the coast. Of course, those pieces of card sent from holiday spots usually come bearing heartfelt statements behind the eye-catching gloss, a trait that Bosch & Rockit also shares. Little about growing up is simple, nothing about parenting is, and love and hope can't help anyone escape either reality — all notions that resonate from this straightforward, always-familiar but also evocative film.