Charles Rangeley-Wilson is an apparently mild-mannered Englishman who spends most of his time in the London area. That being said, there is something you should know about Charles: he is addicted to bonefishing, so much so that he shows signs of withdrawal when unable to cast a fly on a Caribbean flat for some time. Driven by this addiction, he brought his friend and cameraman Matthew Dyas along on an angling quest.
While there are other films detailing the pursuit of bonefish on the fly (In Search of a Rising Tide, etc.), this film is about much more than the fishing. It's about a journey driven by an innate need to catch a ten pound bonefish on a fly. This journey runs the gamut of emotions - ..disappointment, frustration, elation, humility, confusion, remorse, and satisfaction, to name just a few. But don't cross this one off of your list because you think there isn't any flats action; on the contrary, what fishing action there is will more than satiate your hunger. The bonefish footage is some of the best I've seen, and I believe its effect will stay with you because it leaves you wanting more. Films full of fish porn can oftentimes be too much, indeed even overindulgent. Very few of us are in this sport simply to catch fish, and Rangeley-Wilson has found a balance here that succeeds in both capturing the adventure and scratching the flyfishing itch.
The bonefish are not the only centerpieces of this work. The very culture and people of the Bahamas are on display, complete with virtue and generosity. A pair of Brits completely immersed in the Bahamian culture is worth watching in its own right - add to that the need to catch some fish, much of it in a do-it-yourself style, and the appreciation for their quest deepens. The pair gets where they need to be via airplane, taxi, bicycle, boat (cargo and flats), and foot. This is not a fly-in and fly-out scenario; rather, it is a cross-section of tropical conveyance in which the filmmakers take genuine pleasure.
Does this piece have any faults? There are many ways to frame a shot, and I feel that there was an overreliance on one method here. There were just too many absolute close-ups of guides' and anglers' faces, often to the point of only seeing sunglass lenses reflecting back what is around the individual. I recognize the uniqueness of this approach and enjoy it in measured amounts, but when it's used too much it's no longer unique. My only other minor complaint is that a few of the shots had camera work that is reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project - capturing the chaos and calamity of fishing action can lend itself to this type of filming, but again is best in measured amounts.
BONEFISH- a fishing odyssey is indeed a fine piece of work. The authentic island music that is often heard in the backdrop eases one into the island world, and the angler and island natives take it from there. Is this dogged hunt for a trophy bonefish worth all of the energy and time? Look into Rangeley-Wilson's fatigued yet gleeful eyes, and the answer will be quite apparent to you.