Thursday, April 24, 2014

Don's Party

1976, Australia, directed by Bruce Beresford

A very mixed bag -- a film I had wanted to see for years, but which didn't live remotely up to expectations. In its defense, the film marks a nice contrast to the usual Australian celebrations of mateship, simultaneously suggesting that there's something deeply boorish underlying the institution while also demonstrating that when push comes to shove those mates are quick to turn on each other. But its targets feel very middle-class, and certainly very of their time: superficial critiques of certain career choices, suggestions that most people aren't entirely in tune with the narrative of liberated mores, and a good deal of having your cake and eating it -- suggesting that men behave despicably toward women, but giving the men by far the better of the onscreen roles, and most of the best lines. Beresford's efforts to "open up" the original stage material sometimes seem forced, too, in particular the oddball shot choices that end up being more of a distraction than an enhancement (a shot from underneath a counter top, or others where the dolly seems to whiz along its tracks for no especially good reason).

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States