Abby Jackson (Mia Wasikowska), a marine biologist, receives a call telling her that her mother has had a stroke and she needs to go home. Abby returns to Longboat Bay, which brings back memories of growing up there with her mum, Dora (Radha Mitchell).
As a young child, Abby (Ariel Donoghue) is introduced to deep sea diving by Dora, a passionate activist and defender of the ocean and all its creatures. While diving, Abby befriends a playful and friendly blue groper, which she names ‘Blueback’. Because gropers live in the same area for 70 years, each time Abby and Dora dive they encounter their friend.
Later, as a 15-year-old, Abby (Ilsa Fogg) joins her mother in protesting against the development of Longboat Bay and the dredging of the bay to allow for larger boats to visit. Abby introduces her friend, Briggs (Pedrea Jackson), an indigenous Australian, to Blueback. Briggs is also passionate about saving the ocean’s creatures. When divers arrive with spear guns, Abby has to protect Blueback and is nearly shot herself. Her heroic stand, however, ultimately saves the Bay.
Conservation; marine creatures; activism
Blueback has some violence. For example:
- Dora ties herself to a truck with chains during a protest. A policeman tackles a man to the ground.
- Dora and Abby argue on a couple of occasions. Dora yells at her daughter and calls her a coward.
- Divers enter the bay and shoot at fish with their spear guns.
- Abby tries to protect Blueback from the divers with their spear guns. She pushes at Blueback to try and make him swim away but Blueback thinks it’s a game. She eventually punches him but still he doesn’t go. Abby puts her own body in front of Blueback to protect him from the spears and is almost shot but is saved in time.
Blueback has some sexual references. For example, Abby and Briggs hold hands and kiss when they are teenagers.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Blueback has some substance use. For example, there is drinking at a barbecue.
Nudity and sexual activity
There’s no nudity and sexual activity in Blueback.
There’s no product placement in Blueback.
Blueback has some coarse language and name calling. For example, ‘what in the living hell?’, ‘damn’ and ‘lunatic’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Blueback is an adventure movie based on the popular book by Tim Winton. The cinematography and underwater cinematography are stunning along the Western Australian Coast. The movie’s message is about protecting our environment and coastal reefs and while there is little in the movie that is scary, there are a couple of violent scenes and a couple of characters die in the course of the film. It is therefore not recommended for children under 8 and it is better suited for families with older children.
These are the main messages from Blueback:
- We are custodians of our land and environment and we must look after it.
- Stand up for what you believe in.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children are the courage of your convictions, bravery, and making your voice heard.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life attitudes and behaviours towards young people. For example, in the film why do the Councillors dismiss the opinion of a 15-year-old girl? Should young people have a say in what matters to them? You could talk with your children about how to speak up about what they believe in.