Erik Stoneheart is a film from Estonia and dubbed in English, so there are no subtitles for the children to read. With a run time of 105 mins, the film is directed by Ilmar Raag - his first children's film and is recommended for ages 9 plus. Erik is an 11-year-old who tells everyone he has a stone for a heart, thus letting others know he cannot feel even if they hurt him. When his family inherits a villa, they move to their new home where they discover another family living there; young Maria and her dad. They are evicted by Erik's parents, thus activating Maria's secret plan to find and bring back her missing mother to save them. Erik and Maria end up on a journey to the In-Between-World, between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Through the fog, they land on a pirate ship where the Captain has a heart as cold as the ocean floor. An adventure begins and will they ever get back to their own world?
Part of CHIFF (Children's International Film Festival) which runs from 27 May to 12 June 2023 in Melbourne and Sydney, check out the program and discover a world of children's films to suit every taste. There's something for everyone. Take heed as there are startling scenes in Erik Stoneheart that might scare some children in the beginning, and perhaps the in-between-world might not be for everyone. There's a lot of slapstick comedy and over-the-top performances that even those aged 9 and above may find a little over-the-top and unrealistic. The world of the living and the dead seems like a heavy subject matter that doesn't quite gel. It's missing the magic and the fantasy of Harry Potter where themes of life and death are explored, however, this one is a little heavy-handed, and unrealistic performances don't help. Florin Gussak as Maria and her mother played by Laura Peterson-Aardam easily stand out for their performances amongst a ship of fools dare I say, and Aunt Brunhilda (Claire Johnston) is the next best thing encapsulated in a painting. You would have to see the film to work out this cryptic expression. Feel free to comment on how you felt about the film and give others a heads-up with your opinion. You may feel quite differently about the film than I did.