My Australia, directed by Ami Drozd, is the story of ten-year-old Tadek (Jakub WrÃ³blewski) and his older brother Andrzej (Lukasz Sikora). Living in Poland, the two boys are part of a neo-Nazi gang and wind up being arrested after starting a fight at a Jewish school. Their mother gets them released from the police station and reveals to Andrzej a secret she has kept from them, that they’re actually Jewish. Realizing that she needs to get her sons away from this gang, she tells them that they’re going to move to Australia. It’s only after they board a boat that she reveals they’re heading to Israel. With their former lives shattered, the boys must find themselves in a foreign land.
My Australia begins at a strange pace, following Tadek and Andrzej as they walk with their gang to a Jewish school. A fight ensues but when the police arrive, Tadek is too slow, forcing Andrzej to come back to get him, leading to them both being arrested. Things really slow down as Tadek spends most of his time trying to find out what’s going on around him. His mother has told Andrzej something, but not him. What follows is a number of scenes showing the two boys causing trouble until Andrzej finally reveals to Tadek what their mother told him, that they’re actually Jewish and they’ll be moving to Australia soon. When the family finally boards the boat, we’re treated to the same number of scenes of Tadek trying to figure out what his mother and Andrzej know. This brings everything to a crawl and is a frustrating ordeal.
With our viewpoint tied to Tadek’s, we only know as much as he does, which is almost nothing, making the first 30-minutes of the film a bit confusing and lacking any real emotion. We’re just unaware of what is happening, and we’re left watching Tadek or his brother constantly get into trouble without any real consequences besides the one time they were arrested. Even their family is a mystery to the viewer. Their mother tells a story about their father dying in her arms, but that isn’t the truth. We’re never told the truth, although we know that the father is not around, we just don’t know why. It may not be that important to the film, but it’s still terribly annoying to not know.
When the family reaches Israel, the film dramatically picks up. Their mother is unable to find work and decides to leave the boys in a kibbutz. This is a collective community where many different families live together. The boys end up living in separate houses with other children. This is where Tadek begins to grow into a new identity. In Poland, he followed Andrzej around, doing whatever his older brother had done. In his new life, he begins to realize that fighting and stealing isn’t the correct path to follow, and that his hatred of the Jewish people was wrong. As Tadek becomes a better person, it puts him at odds with his brother, who refuses to change and is determined to find a way back to Poland.
Starting out slowly, My Australia becomes a joy to watch as Tadek strives to be a better person. Young Jakub WrÃ³blewski delivers a great performance as Tadek, showing the two sides of a boy struggling to fit in while still trying to be a part of his own family.