December Boys is a 2007 Australian film directed by Rod Hardy and written by Marc Rosenberg and adapted from the 1963 novel of the same name by Michael Noonan. It was released on 14 September 2007 in the UK and US and 20 September 2007 in Australia. December Boys is Daniel Radcliffe's first non-Harry Potter film role since 2001's The Tailor of Panama.
This film is a coming of age picture for the four main characters, and how their lives can change over one holiday. The film is set in 1960s Australia. Four orphan boys from a Roman Catholic orphanage in the outback of Australia - Maps, Misty, Spark and Spit - were all born in the month of December, and for their birthday, they are sent on a holiday to the beach to stay with Mr. and Mrs. McAnsh. While there, they meet Fearless, a man who claims to be the risk motorbike rider in the nearby carnival, and his wife, Teresa. Misty, Spark and Spit instantly become closer to Teresa, but Maps, the eldest of the four, is still reluctant to talk to her. He instead finds more fun in spending time with a teenage girl named Lucy, who had come to the beach to stay with her uncle. He often goes up to a place with strange rocks, and meets her there.
A few days later, the orphans peek through a window in Fearless' house to see Teresa undressing, but Misty, being the most religious of the four, throws a rock at the wall to make them go away. Misty runs back to Mr. McAnsh's house and looks through the small opening of a door to see someone in the shower, only to find that it is the sickly body of Mrs. McAnsh. They soon realise that she has breast cancer.
One night, Misty overhears Fearless talking to his friends about the possibility of adopting one of the orphans. Excited about the opportunity to finally have parents, he keeps it to himself until he decides to reveal it to a priest who has driven to the beach for the orphans' confessions. The other boys realise that he is taking too long, and once he is finished, they force it out of him with the threat of Spit spitting on him while he is pinned to the ground. Misty, Spark and Spit are eager to compete for the love of the seemingly perfect Fearless and Teresa, but Maps is less than excited, even saying to Lucy, "What's the big deal about parents, anyway?" Maps experiences his first kiss with Lucy, and soon loses his virginity to her in one of the caves of the Remarkable Rocks.
There, she tells him to promise that he will always remember her as his first. The next day, he goes up to the Remarkable Rocks, only to realise that Lucy is not there. Her uncle tells him that she's left the beach to return to her father, and will not be back until next summer. Heartbroken, he goes to the carnival to find Fearless and talk to him, but discovers that he is not a motorbike rider there, and instead cleans up after the animals. Furious that he'd lied all along, he finds a painting made by Misty of him as the son of Fearless and Teresa, and destroys it. Misty attacks him and hits him with the fragments of the frame he'd put the painting in, and the bond between the four orphans is broken.
Fearless finds Maps in the cave of the Remarkable Rocks, and explains to him what had really happened. It is revealed to the audience that Fearless was formerly a bike rider, and did all of the stunts with Teresa riding in the back. Then, there was an accident that kept Teresa in the hospital for nearly a year, making her unable to have children. That was the reason they had wanted to adopt one of the orphans.
Maps returns to the beach and finds out from Spark and Spit that Misty had gone into the water, and was drowning. Maps goes after him despite the fact that he cannot swim. Both he and Misty nearly drown. Underwater, they open their eyes to see a vision of the Virgin Mary, possibly meaning that they are dying. Before they can reach out to it, the two boys are grabbed by Fearless and brought back to the shore. Maps and Misty reconcile with each other and the four are friends again.
The next day, the boys are called to Fearless' and Teresa's house for an announcement. There, they reveal the couple is going to adopt Misty. He take leave of his friends and he watches on the front porch with Fearless and Teresa as the three orphans leave and begin playing on some of the rocks. Misty realises that they were his true family all along, and asks Fearless and Teresa if he can stay with them instead. They accept, and he returns home with the orphans.
Several decades later, Misty, as an old man, drives to the same beach with Spark and Spit, along with the ashes of Maps and Lucy's ring that she gave to him, who had died as a priest in Africa helping refugees. They let the ashes loose in the wind, remembering their time there.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Daniel Radcliffe ... Maps
Lee Cormie ... Misty
Christian Byers ... Sparks
James Fraser ... Spit
Jack Thompson ... Bandy
Teresa Palmer ... Lucy
Sullivan Stapleton ... Fearless
Victoria Hill ... Teresa
Max Cullen ... Narrator / Adult Misty
Kris McQuade ... Mrs. McAnsh
Ralph Cotterill ... Shellback
Frank Gallacher ... Father Scully
Paul Blackwell ... Watson
Judi Farr ... Reverend Mother
Carmel Johnson ... Sister Beatrice
Directed by Rod Hardy
Produced by Richard Becker
Screenplay by Marc Rosenberg
Story by Ronald Kinnoch
Based on December Boys by