Heidi (Abbie Cornish) is a lively teenage girl living at home with her single mother (Olivia Pigeot). When she's caught kissing her mum's creepy tattooed boyfriend, she does a runner, ending up in a lowly ski resort. She charms her way into a job and a place to stay, but soon her abundant sexuality and immaturity mean she eventually becomes unstuck...
This is a bleaker depiction of Australia than is seen in most popular soap operas. Shot in shades of grey and blue, it is shown to be a cold, barren wasteland inhabited by disconnected, lonely human beings. Director Cate Shortland shows this off to good effect, but could have done without the arty shots of falling leaves, and slow-motion captures of passing countryside and kept the story told in a more straightforward way.
The coming-of-age plot is a standard hook, naive teenage girl uses newfound sexuality to achieve intimacy, people exploit her, she defeats this and becomes hardened and wiser as a result. "Somersault" does not quite follow this path, and while there is a suggestion that Heidi has become wiser by the end, it is clear she still has a lot of growing up to do. Throughout, the girl seems dazed and disconnected by the real world around her, and in this the parallel between her and an autistic boy she encounters is not exploited nearly enough.
As Heidi, Abbie Cornish gives a performance that is at once sultry and naive. With blonde hair, fresh face and husky voice, Abbie captures the girl's sensuality and insecurity very well. The only flaw is the primordial scream she lets out on losing her job at a serving station. That is the only false note in her entire performance. Sam Worthington plays Joe, the only character in the film who truly understands her, while dealing with demons and anxieties all his own. Sam delivers a subtle, noteworthy performance.
Not perfect and a tad too arty in places, "Somersault" should nevertheless be the basis for more Australian pictures.
JBit, thanks again...Australian film gets another thumbs up yet again. Although the last one I watched could have been better.
This is rather an intriguing story of a girl that is pretty much trying to find a place to belong...and who steps in the wrong path to find what it is she is looking for.
Heidi is a young girl who lives with her mom and her mom's boyfriend who doesn't seem to do much else then hang around the house all day and drink his face off. One day, her mother leaves for work suggesting for her daughter to take the bus. This leads to an intimate moment with her mother's boyfriend, lots of yelling and then leads to Heidi's running away to a little ski town.
She leaves to this sleepy little town in hopes of getting a job from a vague offer that doesn't really seem to work out. Lost, confused, with no place to stay Heidi finds the first person who could take her home per se. Him and his friends have to take off the next morning and when she asks if she could come with them, she learns that already has a girlfriend at home waiting for him.
Heidi leaves, disappointed and depressed with only a few of her personal possessions for company. There, she meets Joe who seems nice enough and after being persistant enough he brings her to a motel and then leaves her in the morning.
Time goes on and he doesn't call her, or come by. She works out a deal with the motel's owner and is allowed to stay one night and pay rent the next day. She goes out to look for a job and almost comes up empty, until she finds a spot at the gas station.
One day, Joe comes in and leaves promptly...but after finishing work he meets her finally. Heidi works, she becomes friends with Bianca (the other girl at the register) and sees Joe occasionally. She seems to wear his heart on her sleeve and he seems extremely distant not sharing anything about himself.
They each try to deal with their problems, both completely dysfunctional individuals. Apart, of course. One who wants to be with the other and doesn't know how to be alone...and the other who doesn't want to get to close, afraid to. Although he'll never admit it.
Things occur, to both of them. Mistakes are made, and they spiral outwards and then back together again. In a way that both learn from their mistakes in a way enough for them both to move on.
Guess it's not for everyone, but I really enjoyed this movie. Especially the cinematography. Heidi seems to find the beauty in small things; a pair of red gloves, glitter on a birthday card, looking through purple goggle lenses, dead leaves swishing about from the steps. And, Joe looking through the window through the glass of a red goblet.
They both seem so similar, yet are afraid to admit it. And are so fragile as they literally go through the process what is called 'growing up'. Be it metaphorical or not. Just a lovely film, altogether. :]
My biggest problem with the film was the lack of empathy I had for the characters. Especially the character played by Abbie Cornish. Does this girl know how to live around people or was she raised by wolves? Does she have any sense of restraint or an understanding of the concept of consequences? If the film's best defense is that it's showing what the average teen goes through, the making of mistakes and all, I'm glad I wasn't an average teen because some of her actions border on downright stupid.
And was it really necessary to have the leading male swear so nonchalantly? I'm not a prude and I've seen Tarantino films so I'm used to frequent cursing but it doesn't work when you just use it in a normal tone. Without a hint of anger or fear or any other real emotion, it comes across as forced.
This movie just angered me in so many ways, I honestly don't see how people could be like that in real life. Yes, they make mistakes but a lot of them do seem to learn something from them and have better interaction skills. Very easily one of the worst films I have, and ever will have, seen.
[font=Century Gothic]Until it gets touchy-feely in the end, "Somersault" is an artfully crafted movie that has a provocative take on teen sexuality but that is not what the movie is really about. The film is truly concerned with how young people make mistakes mostly through miscommunication and not unduly condemning them for it. Overall, the movie is about characters who are trying to find their way in the world, especially Joe, but the movie fares better when it focuses on Heidi. [/font]
Heidi spends a great deal of time on her own, yes just like a rolling stone but she doesn't look as homeless and forlorn as she really is. She watches the leaves rustle. It's the small things that make up her life such as looking through the lens of purple snowboarding glasses or through the eyes of an autistic child who has no sense of empathy, regardless Heidi leaves everyone she comes in contact with intrigued. Abby Cornish is exceptional in the role somehow escaping the gaze of the camera entirely and becoming this innocent and relatable character who makes the best out of little constantly adding to her winsome scrapbook; masking the little girl never able to escape her childhood. Actors in there earliest stages of development is usually a pleasure to observe and Sam Worthington, now of Avatar fame, is a boyish and rough Joe who may as well be an Aussie rocker boy if his jeans were a bit skinnier. He's certainly gloomy enough but doesn't do much other than brings girls to motels, watch tv, and of course drink heavily. Needless to say, melding him with the young and beautiful Abby Cornish make an adorably sexy couple but the film gets a little distracted in exploiting this.
The casual sex between the two soon blows over as always and real life sets in outside moments before the young couple's official first date at the local Chinese restaurant. As Joe orders it becomes clear Heidi is not savvy to the food of the east and is left rather perplexed. Digressing from her confusion she provokes the vital and ever deciding relationship conversation, you know the one, the imminent "Am I your girlfriend?" question which leads harsh faced Joe to hastily finish his beer and in response the most delightful shot from the sky takes hold as Heidi downs the foreign substance of chili peppers. In that moment, the film comes to plain view and leaves the viewer in awe. So much can be explained in an angle. She of course has to throw up soon after this and Joe is by no means happy about becoming her caretaker as she goes into a coma of sorts. Even the flush of the toilet is graceful in director Cate Shortland's gaze. Impressive doesn't come close.
The use of water, the flowing fluid we all floated about before birth is one of the most beautiful aspects of the film. From baths to spaying water on windows to youths jumping around swimming pools to ice turning to water from windshields to the lake the entire film revolves around, water acts as the liquid diluting Heidi from the maturity needed to metamorphose from girl to woman.
Of course, the most substantial relationship Heidi develops in her coming of age adventure ends with the dreary, "I think its good that we met...cya." To which Mr. Avatar responds, "Bye." And smiles. The parting moments put on display Australia's glorious forest and lakes and we all know the feeling of peering out the window on the passenger side, departing from a life-altering experience that will only be a memory once the car ride is over. Just like Somersault itself, a film that will stay with me. A movie worth watching for those in a transformation phase whether they know it or not.The script leaves much up for interpretation but the cinematic devices showcase an unusual splendor.