Blaze (Julia Savage) is a twelve-year-old girl who lives with her father, Luke (Simon Baker), in Australia. One afternoon after school, Blaze takes a different route home which has life-changing consequences as she witnesses a tragic abuse situation (Josh Lawson) and (Yael Stone). During the horrific event, Blaze freezes up and is unable to assist. She returns home to her father, who understands something horrible has occurred.
Now Blaze must not only work with the police to bring justice for the crime she witnessed but also deal with her various emotions, including fear and anger. As she uses her imagination, viewers will go on a whole new cinematic journey, and we will enter the mind and world of Blaze. This world is loaded with stunning visuals, artwork, and a dark look at dealing with trauma.
While some parents may consider this as a family/children’s film, I’m here to provide a stern warning; it isn’t. For those who are not aware, Blaze is a heavy drama. Even as a grown adult, I was taken on an unexpected journey with hopes that Blaze, at some point, may improve or find some form of peace in her life ahead.
As a directional debut from Del Kathryn Barton, some impressive and stunning work is on display here. Fun fact- the director is a talented artist, and all her giftings and passion for art shine through this film. Audiences will have their jaws dropping at various moments due to the extreme level of creativity as we witness all things in Blaze’s mind, including a friendly dragon that lives in her room. Moments of drama are captured wonderfully, and some moments here made me feel uncomfortable or want to tense up in my seat. Other moments had me feeling in awe as I watched something unlike anything I had seen in Australian cinema before. In a nutshell, Blaze is an amazing ride that will elicit various emotions from viewers.
The performance of Julia Savage as Blaze is incredible and unforgettable. I can only imagine what a challenge it would have been for the young actress to take on a character going through significant trauma and a major life-changing event. The actress is highly convincing, and the lines of dialogue are spoken with true strength and realistic reactions on-screen. The side performance from Josh Lawson (somewhat brief) is quite surprising and enjoyable compared to some of the actor’s other films. Simon Baker is again great, but I couldn’t help but question some of the character choices as a parent, which did seem a bit of a stretch for my acceptance. The film’s pacing, for the most part, is great, with only the second act dragging on a little longer than I preferred. There’s a moment in the film where I felt as a viewer we had stayed in the same spot a little longer than preferred, and it was time for the film to take its next big step. Thankfully with a touching and surprising finale, I was left feeling thankful and honoured to witness such a heartfelt film.
Overall, highly imaginative and packed with stunning creativity, Blaze is a powerful and gripping film that takes its audiences on a journey of overcoming trauma. Visually, this film brings something Australian cinemas haven’t seen before, and the entire plot and concept feels welcoming and leaves an unforgettable experience. The leading performance from Julia Savage is impressive, and the young actress delivers a stunning and highly convincing performance on-screen. Everything here feels fresh and new, with only a few minor issues relating to pacing or side character choices. As a directional debut from Del Kathryn Barton, I am proud to say this film made me feel thankful and honoured for witnessing the journey and all its greatness. Blaze is an impressive and mind-blowing film for Australian cinema, and I cannot wait to see what’s to come from the director’s next film project.