December Boys (2007)
Four orphan boys are given a vacation from their usual 1960s catholic orphanage surroundings and are sent to a small community by the picturesque Australian coast, where they discover truths about life and end up competing to get adopted by a young childless couple. December Boys is just as sweet and well-intended as it sounds, if not more, and the film toggles between the insightful and pleasant on the one hand, and the rather tacky on the other. Fortunately, most of us are easily won over by films which have its heart in the right place, and December Boys is a film that grows on you when you let it in, despite director Ron Hardy's somewhat unappealing intro, in which we too quickly are expected to share sentiment with characters we don't know yet.
Daniel Radcliffe gives his first lead performance away from the Harry Potter franchise, and is quite apt at what he explores here: young love, comradery and teenage rebellion (albeit a good-natured, 1960s one). He is clumsy and looks too old for the part, but comes to life alongside Teresa Palmer in the film's romantic subplot. Lee Cormie also gives a fine performance in a rather unchallenging part. The latter goes for most of the acting in December Boys, however, because in essence, this is not a very stretching or ambitious film, but rather a film which aims (and succeeds) at capturing an atmosphere and a time in which children had more naivety and religious respect, and - incidentally - fewer parents.