CLOUDBOY (Belgium/Sweden/Netherlands 2016)

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cloudboyCLOUDBOY (Belgium/Sweden/Netherlands 2016) **
Directed by Meikeminne Clinckspoor

Starring: Geert Van Rampelberg, Sara Sommerfeld, Mikkel Gaup

Review by Gilbert Seah

CLOUDBOY is a coming-of-age story of a 12-year old boy who learns to appreciate the love of his separated mother and his other siblings.
Though CLOUDBOY tells the story of 12-year old Niilas, it is not told from his point of view but from the outside, letting the audience form their own opinion on the boy and on the incidents that occur. When the film opens, the audience sees the relationship between Niilas and his father. His father is playful yet stern when Niilas gets out of hand. They have spent all the years together in Sweden and it is now time for the boy to visit the mother who live up north in Swedish Lapland (hence the title CLOUDBOY).

The film being shot in Sweden and Belgium offers the younger audience a good education of what it is like to live in different countries.

So, against his will, Niilas spends his summer vacation with his mother and her new family (two siblings) in rural northern Sweden, where they live among the indigenous Sami people as reindeer herders. Having spent most of his 12 years with his father in Belgium, Niilas barely knows his mother and has yet to meet his stepfather and new siblings. Uncomfortable around the reindeer and his family, Niilas retreats inwards. His negligence following an argument with his half-brother causes a reindeer to go missing. Feeling responsible for the animal’s safety — and for causing his family distress — he takes on the search.

Niilas is portrayed as a spoilt kid who can do damage when he does not get what he wants. His mother, stepfather and two step siblings are just too nice to him to be believable. Niilas let loose all the reindeer that the family have taken 5 weeks to round up. He mistreats his siblings. H spurns the love of the mother and stepfather. Niilas basically does what he wants. Yet everything turns out right and everyone still cares for him. Chuck the spoilt kid into the river, is what I would say.

The film is predictable to the very end.

Despite the director’s good intentions, the film feels flat. But younger audiences might be able to appreciate the film a bit better.

The film is shot in many languages – Swedish. Sami and Flemish.

The film is suitable for family though there is one instance of slapping and shoving.

CLOUDBOY will be screened at the TIFF Kids International Film Festival with a total of 5 separate screenings. In addition there will be an introduction and Q&A with director, Meikeminne Clinckspoor on April 18, April 20 and April 22.



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