Bra Boys Film Review

March 9, 2017 Music

???Bra Boys is a film which documents Maroubra??™s surfing tribe and the incessant adversities they face. The documentary converts the notorious and infamous gang into a tribe of inseparable brothers.???
Bra Boys is a stimulating and absorbing documentary of the Bra Boys??™ history of adversity, violence and community. Released on 15th March, 2007, with a remastered DVD version released on 1st of March, 2011, this influential text highlights the bonds of loyalty formed within the localised surfing community of Maroubra. In particular, the documentary focuses on the four Abberton brothers Sunny, Jai, Koby and Dakota (Dakota is only briefly included) as they struggle with the predicament and oppressions that are brought onto the tribe. Maroubra, represented as the poverty stricken, rundown beach town is the central setting of this documentary. The surf has been the Bra Boys??™ saviour from their childhood community of ???domestic violence, parental neglect and drugs???.
The Bra Boys are seen throughout Australia as an infamous surfing ???gang??™, notorious for the abundance of violence they present. Director Sunny Abberton, along with co-director Macario De Souza try to change that prejudiced view through the biased, yet effective depiction of the Bra Boys as a tight and loyal family of larrikins, victimised by the authorities and their society. The film consistently draws the viewer emotionally in to look upon the tribe with empathy and a sense of acquaintanceship. Bra Boys??™ success comes from its fast editing of scenes showing spectacular surfing, stimulating gang violence and poignant scenes of the community??™s struggles and losses.
Members of the Bra Boys are seen to follow a certain code of loyalty, honesty, and courage. This code is best captured during the time when a Bra Boy member was recounting his wounds from a firearm, and refuses to tell the police who had shot him. When Koby states, ???there??™s a responsibility with the brotherhood. You drop everything and turn up, no matter what it is. The boys ring you, you turn up,??? it perspicaciously captures the community??™s code and invites the audience to view the Bra Boys with respect, seeing a community of people with purpose in life, not one that is lost in violence and destruction.
The Bra Boys also value the attribute of ???charging??™, which is depicted as pushing the boundaries. Sunny Abberton??™s view on ???charging??™ is best seen when he states that ???theres nothing better than being with your brothers and friends and all psyching each other up and see whos going to charge the hardest.??? When the Bra Boys find the supposedly ???unsurfable??™ break at Cape Solander, footage of the surf breaking right onto the rocky cliff face is shown to highlight the danger. The scenes are quickly juxtaposed with shots of many Bra Boys surfing the break, some of them younger teens. These skilfully used film techniques emphasises the tribe??™s rash and reckless nature depicting the Bra Boys as entertaining and vivacious.
Repeatedly foregrounded by the film makers is the Bra Boy??™s larrikinism-like nature. Footage of several Bra Boys partying in a street, blocking a bus portrays them as hoodlums partying and ???hanging out??™. Sunny Abberton and Macario De Souza effectively utilise loud and upbeat music with unruly lyrics to pull the audience into a relaxed, party mood where they are positioned to view the Bra Boys as a simple bunch of larrikins. Shaky, amateur footage filmed on mobile cameras shows the rough and immature side of the Bra Boys which highlights their hoodlum-like nature.
The Bra Boys are depicted as victims instead of dangerous trouble makers, struggling through discrimination from authorities and through harshly represented Maroubra. Bra Boy members are born into a community depicted as disturbed and broken, where many suffer from its delinquent grip. This notion is foregrounded throughout the film and is seen explicitly through the numerous, varying shots of broken down houses, broken windows and graffiti covered walls. One significant shot is the background to Sunny Abberton??™s first few interviews, where it serves to justify the Bra Boys??™ present relations to violence and also positions the audience to become more emotionally connected.
Sunny Abberton and Macario De Souza successfully depict the local police and authorities as an unjust group of oppressors, targeting the Bra Boys. John Cannon, a Bra Boy states, ???There were a few of the older (police), probably 40 years old hassling the younger (Bra Boy members).??? The film then suddenly switch over to a police officer who states that ???Some of those people attempted to gate crash the police party and were quite well aware that they were off duty police officers.??? By juxtaposing both pieces of footage, the film positions the viewer to believe that it was not the Bra Boys that had started the brawl, but the police.
The biased view of the police hassling the surfing community of Maroubra greatly contradicts against the typical stereotype of them being protectors and law abiders. Sunny Abberton and Macario De Souza depict the police as coercers so well that instead of weakening the film??™s view, it provides it with a greater impact on the viewer??™s mind, positioning the audience to see the Bra Boys as victims and relate to them with sympathy and empathy.
Surfing is the passion which had initiated and shaped the Bra Boy community. Throughout Bra Boys, the surf is seen as a central motive for the creation of the Bra Boys, which invites the audience to see the community not as the typical gang, but as a tribe or a club who??™s main focus is surfing, not violence or drugs.
The Abberton brothers in the film take younger members on surfing trips in attempts to continue the surfing nature of the tribe. Jess Pollock is a young Bra Boy member who is taken by the Abbertons on surfing trips. In the documentary, Jess is depicted as a promising boy who meets and exceeds the code of the Bra Boys community, ???charging??™ big waves with the Abbertons. However, in September 2009, Jesse was charged for cocaine smuggling, damaging the postive depiction of the Bra Boys. Nevertheless, during the film, Jesse is successfully depicted as a young and pure boy with a promising future of surfing which positions the audience to view the drug dealing as an honest mistake, a part of his growing up under the influence of the Maroubra society, where ???domestic violence, parental neglect and drugs??? are chronic and dominant.
In August 2003, Jai Abberton murdered the ???standover man??™ and Bra Boy Anthony Hines. Jai was later charged for murder and Koby for accessory to murder. In Bra Boys, surfing is represented as a form of emotional escape for the members of the community, most prominent through the duration of Koby??™s trial. The trials were extremely emotional for Koby, with him being threatened to fifteen years of jail and on top of that, Jai with thirty years. In the film Koby travels around the world to find the largest waves to surf and let out his emotional build up within. Through the trial scenes, the Bra Boys are represented as emotionally capable, and the film tries to establish a connection of respect in which the audience can relate to.
Bra Boys is an excellently produced documentary which leaves no doubt in the viewer??™s mind that the Bra Boys are tight, decent men. The idea of community is very well represented, with the Bra Boys depicted all throughout the film as inseparable brothers. As the most successful documentary produced in Australia, Bra Boys is the ticket for the Abberton brothers to change the countries??™ view on this notorious gang, to ???charge??™ once again.


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