Tuesday, October 28, 2014


1974, Australia, directed by Tim Burstall

With Alvin Purple director Burstall at the helm, I anticipated a film far more ocker in spirit than the reality, which is more social commentary than broad laughs, consistent with the 1970s oeuvre of writer David Williamson. It's by no means a perfect film in terms of its social attitudes -- among other flaws there's a reasonable amount of what a later viewer might call "mansplaining" in the title character's interventions on behalf of feminist groups, something that's characteristic of Williamson's writing more generally.

As acute as he is in examining the Aussie male of the 1970s and 1980s, Williamson is a good deal less clued-in (or perhaps less interested) when dealing with the Aussie female, and the conclusion is, to say the least, rather jarring: it's difficult to say whether the brutal event or its insouciant aftermath is more unsettling. Jack Thompson is quite brilliant in the lead -- it's not at all hard to see why he became a star on the strength of this and the subsequent Sunday Too Far Away. There's something amazing in seeing an actor transform into something more than just an actor before your eyes: I was distracted by Errol Flynn in Captain Blood for exactly that reason -- not only is he visibly becoming "Errol Flynn," but he knows it full well.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States