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Directed by Tyson Wade Johnston
Written by Tyson Wade Johnston
Produced by Blake Northfield, Nathan Walker and Jay Douglas
Starring Levi Miller, Laura Gordon, Robert Morgan, Tasia Zalar, Jake Ryan, Jason Isaacs, Steve Bastoni, Hunter Page-Lochard and Sam Parsonson
“A masterful, razor-sharp filmmaking debut.”
Australia has a long history of sports films.
In 1911 alone four sports-themed films were released including Alfred Rolfe’s critically acclaimed, and very well-received silent drama, The Cup Winner.
More recently Australia has produced an abundance of films celebrating this country’s obsession with competitive entertainment like Bruce Beresford’s The Club, Paul Moloney’s Crackerjack, and Rachel Griffiths’ Michelle Payne biopic, Ride Like a Girl. It’s also worth mentioning the two outstanding Adam Goodes documentaries, The Australian Dream and The Final Quarter – both exploring the toxic side of AFL fandom.
Now we have Tyson Wade Johnston’s semi-autobiographical Streamline. A gripping, powerful, emotionally-charged family drama set in the world of professional swimming. Wade Johnston’s taut exploration of teenage masculinity and family connection never misses a beat in this masterful, razor-sharp filmmaking debut.
Streamline follows 15-year-old swimmer Benjamin Lane, whose name could not be more apt. On the cusp of qualifying for the olympic games, Benjamin’s disciplines are challenged when his father is released from prison. While Benjamin is at the peak of physical fitness, he is forced to confront the ongoing psychological effects of a troubled upbringing at the hands of an abusive father.
At the forefront of Streamline is the imposing, Adonis-like Levi Miller as Benjamin. Following impressive turns in films like Pan and Jasper Jones, and a guest appearance on the DC Comics television series Supergirl, this is Miller’s most mature role yet, and his best performance ever. Miller excels in bringing humanity and empathy to an otherwise melancholic character.
With so much family drama at its core, Streamline could easily have drifted into one big melodramatic cliché. But Wade Johnston brilliantly weaves a deep, complex and engaging pool of supporting characters into Lane’s narrative that keeps Streamline’s emotional weight afloat. Laura Gordon’s damaged mother, Tasia Zalar’s encouraging girlfriend, Robert Morgan’s Whiplash-esque mentor, and Issac Drandic’s sympathetic school teacher are all exceptionally performed.
Rather than making professional swimming the main focus, Streamline is a solid character study about a young man who’s beginning to crumble under the pressure of professional sports stardom while dealing with trauma. On the surface Streamline is moody and dark, but just below is a shining light that will inspire.
It has been a long time since we’ve seen a filmmaking debut as faultless as Streamline.