Wild Goat Surf

By: Trevor Chartrand

Superb and charming, Wild Goat Surf is a timeless coming-of-age story from writer/director Caitlyn Sponheimer. The movie perfectly encapsulates youth and our formative years;  a turbulent time full of nuance and doubt.

Set over the course of one summer in an RV park near Okanagan Lake, British Columbia, Wild Goat Surf focuses on 12-year-old skateboarder Rell ‘Goat’ Anderson (Shayelin Martin) and her struggling single mother (Sponheimer).  While her mom works two jobs to make ends meet, Goat’s mind is on the ocean and her surfing aspirations… but it’s difficult to catch a wave on the calm waters of a freshwater lake.

Goat befriends Nate Owenes (Leandro Guedes), a trailer-neighbor, and the two spend the summer together sharing hopes and dreams.  They engage in harmless, juvenile, mischief together as they learn each other’s darkest secrets.  Being from two different worlds, their summer-long friendship has an inevitable expiration date, adding a poignant slice-of-life quality to the film.

This movie is driven by incredibly resonant performances from its younger stars, Martin and Guedes.  Both actors bring a wholesome clumsiness to their characters that will remind viewers of their own childhoods, especially those awkward years.  The (seemingly effortless) chemistry between the two of them is quite captivating.

Of course, Sponheimer’s writing is the true heart and foundation of these characters.  The film’s dialogue especially adds authenticity to the characters and their relationships overall.  Kids are written to sound like kids, which is always refreshing – too often speaking parts given to child actors miss the mark.

Shot on-location in BC, the sets of Wild Goat Surf have a lived-in (or perhaps worn-down) quality to them, and the setting of the film sort of becomes a character in itself.  As Goat and Nate explore their lofty ambitions, their surroundings contradict them in poetic ways.

Ultimately, Wild Goat Surf has the surprising ability to make viewers feel nostalgic for a time that they probably don’t really want to relive.  There’s a compelling simplicity to the narrative, in that the story always stays grounded and real.  The most memorable take-away from the film though is its characters, who are well-defined and relatable in the delicate, defining stages of their lives.


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