Niilas (Daan Roofthooft) is very close to his father and lives in the perfect fantasy land setting in Belgium. His dad plays stacking games with him while doing the dishes in the gaps between showering him with love and attention referring to him affectionately as Mister. When he is not with his father Niilas hangs out at the free running park jumping over, under and between structures and objects. His mother who has remarried and lives very far north wants to reconnect with her son so it's arranged for Niilas to go for a visit against his will to Lapland to see his mom and his half brother and his mother's new husband's daughter.
Things do not work out for an extended period of time when the scene shifts to Lapland. Niilas is withdrawn often lashes out and just wants to go home. His new sibling Sunna (Ayla Nutti) is the only one that can initially break through his tough shield. It's Reindeer migration season in Lapland when the sun does not set. After an incident leads to the reindeer escaping our protagonist must combine his skills from back home with the new ones he's learned to help locate a vital element for the herd.
Writer director Meikeminne Clinckspoor weaves a story that has several important learning points for tweens in the age range of 12 year old Niilas. How to cope in a blended separated family is extensively explored. the narrative is clear to point out that being withdrawn and angry is not the path to take. Rather different people, cultures, lifestyles and environments give an opportunity to expand you skills and knowledge that can be useful in the new and even your surroundings when you get back home.
The cast are all well suited for there roles with Ayla Nutti being the most memorable in the role of Sunna. She is not a blood relative of Niilas but willing to meet him head on. Not tippy toe around his uncomfortableness. Sara Sommerfeld represents well as the struggling mother Katarina. She wants her son to accept her and her new life but quickly gets to her wits ends on how to reach through to him. Cinematographer Christian Paulussen creates the top of the world set of Lapland as a major supporting character in the piece. The film is filled with panoramic views of the hills, valley, waterfalls and tough gravel landscape of the area.
Couldboy is a straight ahead tale of a young boy taken out of his comfort zone who is reluctant at first but comes to appreciate his new surroundings and extended family. The film is well suited for the 8-14 age range providing lessons and tools to be used when faced with a fractured or blended family situation. The acting fits the narrative with its mainly understated performances leaving room for the natural Norway landscape to fill the void.
*** Out of 4.
Cloudboy | Meikeminne Clinckspoor | Belgium / Sweden/ Norway / Netherlands| 78 Minutes | 2017.
Tags: Reindeer, Free running, Step Brother, Divorce, Lapland, 24 Hour Daylight, Lasso, Reindeer Pen.