Blinder (M) 2.5 stars
Oliver Ackland, Jack Thompson, Rose McIver, Anna Hutchison, Angus Sampson
DIRECTOR RICHARD GRAY
REVIEW SHANNON HARVEY
You’ll like this if you liked Australian Rules, Wasted on the Young, The Club, Summer Coda, Peaches.
I've always wondered why Australian filmmakers haven't made more movies set in the world of our national sport, Australian Rules Football.
I'm not talking about documentaries such as The Year of the Dog or the Ben Cousins confessional. I'm talking features - The Great McCarthy (1975) starring a young John Jarratt, the David Williamson classic The Club (1980) or the more sedate drama Australian Rules (2002).
That's just three films about our national obsession. Is that the best we can do? The answer to that question became apparent during Blinder, a small, low-budget coming-of-age drama set in the world of country football.
It's set (and filmed) in the quaint Victorian coastal town of Torquay, where the Tigers are coached with vim and vigour by old Charlie (Jack Thompson, all but mimicking his macho role in The Club). It uses the flashback technique - and makes a bit of a mess of it - to follow the fortunes of star player Tom Dunn (Oliver Ackland), whose hope of being drafted by an AFL club is dashed after one big mistake.
That mistake is kept a secret from us until the end by young director Richard Gray (Summer Coda), and it keeps us guessing along the way. It clearly has something to do with Tom's girlfriend Rose (Anna Hutchison), her water-girl sister Sammy (Rose McIver) and Tom's blokey teammates (Angus Sampson and Josh Helman).
The problem is that Gray keeps flashing back so often - and for such long chunks of time - that the film's time frame becomes a bit of a blur.
The characters are supposed to have aged 10 years but barely look a day older - making it even harder to know the present from the past. Ackland, in particular, only shifts from glum to glummer. While Blinder's narrative flow could do with some ironing out, it is very easy on the eyes.
Torquay makes a lovely coastal setting, with Gray adding some stunning surf scenes to go with the tunes by Powderfinger and Silverchair.
And the two female leads in McIver (The Lovely Bones) and Hutchison (Cabin in the Woods) are as believable as sisters as they are naturally beautiful (both are Kiwi girls and are former Power Rangers).
That said, Gray pads the film out with too many footy sequences and too many minor sub-plots which go nowhere. Worse still, the secret scandal is finally revealed to be more of a mole hill compared to the mountain it's built up to be.
So why aren't we making more footy movies - and good ones at that? Well, Blinder demonstrates that our writers and directors either don't have the nous to make engaging, entertaining Aussie Rules movies, or they're just not interested in the topic.Anyone would think there's not enough to write about.
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