REVIEW | This Is Going To Be Big

This Is Going To Be Big

A Heartfelt Triumph of Inclusivity and Adolescent Aspiration

Reviewed by Brendan Daynes

In the realm of cinematic storytelling, there are films that entertain, films that inspire, and then there are films like This Is Going To Be Big. Director Thomas Charles Hyland’s feature debut takes us on an emotional journey behind the scenes of a school musical based on the iconic John Farnham, while also breaking barriers and celebrating authentic representation. Winner of the MIFF Audience Award 2023, this film is a poignant, touching, and heartwarming testament to the power of creativity, acceptance, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Audiences are invited into the world of neurodivergent teens as they embark on a remarkable journey of self-discovery and artistic expression. Set against the backdrop of the Sunbury and Macedon Ranges Specialist School’s Bullengarook campus, the film beautifully captures the aspirations and challenges of four unique individuals. Halle, the passionate overachiever, finds herself paying tribute to her late aunt’s legacy through her fervent love for singing. Meticulous Josh confronts the task of embracing the musical with seriousness, while the wide-eyed Elyse radiates pure delight in every moment of her involvement. And then there’s the magnetic Chelsea, whose comedic brilliance illuminates the stage as she skilfully seizes the opportunity to enchant the audience.

Hyland’s directorial finesse shines as he unravels the intricacies of the characters’ lives. The film’s focus on neurodiversity, autism, clinical anxiety, and acquired brain injury is genuine, respectful, and strikingly relatable. It beautifully underscores the universal truth that everyone, regardless of their journey, experiences struggles and triumphs. The intricate journey to the stage is masterfully woven, demonstrating how acceptance, equality, and mutual support can bridge the gap between individuals and forge a vibrant, harmonious community.

What truly sets the film apart is its unwavering commitment to authenticity. The characters are not merely representations; they are living, breathing embodiments of the very traits they portray. The performances are nothing short of spectacular, capturing the nuances of each character’s emotions and challenges. The film brilliantly portrays the characters’ struggles and triumphs, presenting them as multi-dimensional individuals with hopes, dreams, and fears that resonate with the audience on a profound level.

The film’s title, This Is Going To Be Big, is an understatement. It’s not just about the spectacle of a school play; it’s about the monumental significance of self-discovery, creative expression, and the unwavering spirit of these remarkable teenagers. Hyland has masterfully painted a canvas where optimism blooms against the backdrop of adversity. The film’s humour is delightful, its emotions are genuine, and its impact is immeasurable.

As the curtain rises on opening night, the audience is transported into a world where dreams are nurtured, voices are amplified, and barriers are shattered. The performance resonates deeply with viewers, reminding us that triumph lies not only in the grand gestures but in the sum of individual journeys.

The film masterfully captures the essence of adolescent aspiration, the celebration of diversity, and the unbreakable bonds forged in the pursuit of a common dream. This Is Going To Be Big is an artistic triumph, a heartwarming celebration, and a resounding affirmation that resonates far beyond the confines of the screen. It’s a reminder that in our shared experiences of struggle and triumph, we find our truest connections.

This Is Going To Be Big played as part of Melbourne International Film Festival which ran in cinemas in various locations around Melbourne and also in some regional locations from 3-20 August, with a selection of films also available to be streamed online from 18-27 August. For more information on the festival visit

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