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Monday, July 7, 2008

White Squall (1996)


A terrific coming-of-age movie!

Jeff Bridges is very believable as Captain Christopher Sheldon, the skipper of the good ship Albatross. His mission is to teach a group of high school boys the way of the sea and of life. All of the boys have problems and, as written and portrayed, some are real heartbreakers. And director Ridley Scott has collected a handsome group of teen hunks to portray them. There is not a false note in any of their performances. Ryan Phillippe particular continues to surprise and impress me with his versatility. Whether it be the sensitive gay boy in T.V's "One Life to Live" or the overly confident and cocky jock of the film I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER he is always convincing. Phillippe is truly an actor that bears watching. Kudos also to John Savage as the ship's English teacher. It's nice to see this underrated actor try a different sort of role for a change.

It's a pity this oceangoing adventure wasn't fully appreciated during its theatrical release in 1996, if only because its climactic storm sequence (hence the movie's title) was awesome on the big screen and inevitably less impressive on video. Mixed reviews also curtailed its box-office potential, but as you might expect from Ridley Scott--the director of Blade Runner and Thelma & Louise--this is a beautifully photographed movie that will thrill anyone who is drawn to the romance and danger of the open sea. The story is a rite-of-passage adventure for a group of high school boys who spend their senior year as the crew-in-training on the Albatross, a sailing vessel skippered by an experienced sailor and schoolmaster (Jeff Bridges) who teaches hard lessons of teamwork and individual responsibility. As they sail to the tip of South America and back, the young men face many challenges that will shape their character, in addition to the carnal pleasures of shore leave in exotic ports of call. It's a traditional story, and Scott doesn't bring anything particularly new to this sailboat variation of Dead Poets Society and Scent of a Woman. But as a coming-of-age drama White Squall is professionally crafted and filled with vital energy, featuring a talented cast of newcomers (led by Scott Wolf of TV's Party of Five) who rise to the demands of this rousing and life-changing adventure. --Jeff Shannon



White Squall (Fan Trailer)



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