Storm Boy: We get by with a little help from each other

by Fiona Teh // February 14, 2019, 12:12 pm

Photo: Storm Boy/ Sony Pictures

Photo: Storm Boy/ Sony Pictures

“I just want to quit the rat race and move to a cabin in the woods, a cave, or a secluded island – anywhere.”

I don’t know what you feel about the word “adulting”, but it really is a thing now. One of the things we joke about these days is this: What if we escape our responsibilities, student loans and people we hate?

A movie I watched recently introduced me to Michael, a 10-year-old boy who meets us from the other side – the secluded side we dream of when we’re tired of our ever-connected existence. 

Nicknamed Storm Boy, Michael lives with his father next to a wildlife sanctuary, in an isolated shed made out of corrugated iron sheets. His father, a fisherman, is known as Hide-away Tom by the people in the nearest town.

It was an unfortunate, devastating event that pushed Tom to hide away with his only son – safe from the world.

And it made me wonder if we’re also pushed away – bit by bit – by the hurts we suffer. 

What are the hurts that still remain in your memory?

A hurtful word your parent said, a not-so-silly prank your friend played on you, or a rejection that you never quite recovered from.

When the wound is inflicted, the unfairness of life makes everything almost unbearable. And it makes you want to hide away – just like Tom did with his son whom he wants to protect.

One day, Michael meets an aboriginal man, Fingerbone Bill, and with his help, brought 3 orphaned pelican chicks home. Despite his initial resistance, Tom relents at the sight of his son’s careful nurturing of the chicks. 

Both father and son gained a friend through Bill, and though unlikely friends, Bill’s friendship helped Tom to open up about the pain that he had been quietly suffering.

We suffer hurts in life, but we get by with a little help from each other. 

If we want to adult well, we need to take care of our hurts. But not by nursing them or rehearsing them.

When we dare to confront our hurts, our inadequacy and our adequacy – may we remember there is more to everything we’re facing in life now.

There is a purpose to all of our lives, and adulthood signals the beginning of a grander mission. Think about how much wiser you are now than you were at 13, and how much more self-assured you are now. 

And if there’s still a long way to go, think about the person we could be at the end of this journey.

Learning from a painful experience with his own father, a much older Michael offers loving counsel to his teenage granddaughter who is fuming at her father.

Even though seclusion sounds like a solution, life is better lived with others around us. 

We get by with a little help from each other.

Storm Boy is screening today, February 15, at 7.30pm at Salt Media @ Capital Tower. The 220-seat cinema in Tanjong Pagar is part of a new 14,000 sq ft events space in Singapore’s CBD. For more show times, visit

About the author

Fiona Teh

Fiona is low-key hilarious, a dog person, and she loves a good chat with strangers – particularly at Yakun. She also believes that everyone should know that they are absolutely worthy of love.