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Watching good Australian films is a bit of a novelty for me because my film tastes aren't particularly adventurous and I usually just stick to American films from the 1960s and 1970s. My familiarity with director John Duigan was derived from the 1981 Judy Davis film The Winter of Our Dreams which was decent but would have been very forgettable without Davis' performance. The actors in this film are a real draw though as you get young Noah Taylor, of Shine (1996) fame, and Ben Mendelsohn, in everything from Mississippi Grind (2015) to Ready Player One (2018), giving career-defining performances. One of the biggest highlights of the film is just how Australian it is as you get to hear accents and see locations that usually aren't present on screen.
Awkward, serious teenager Danny, Noah Taylor, lives in rural Australia during the 1960s and is desperately in love with Freya, Loene Carmen, who politely ignores his advances hoping to still remain friends. She is attracted to town bad boy Trevor Leishman, Ben Mendelsohn, who gets her pregnant but is arrested by the police after stealing a car. Danny tries his hardest to help Freya and discovers dark secrets hidden in their town's history even as he is passed over for the less responsible Leishman.
The film manages to be a sweet coming of age tale while also containing dark elements such as Freya's biological mother having been a prostitute that Danny's father may have slept with. This mix works because the film is more quiet and contemplative than American versions of a similar story as we don't get blaring Karla DeVito songs or dance montages but scenes of teenage boys playfully almost drowning girls who are besotted with them. The final moments of the film are incredibly poignant as we learn that Freya never came back to the town after she left and her fate is left up to our imagination.
Danny is one of those rare protagonists who doesn't really change even as those around him do as he begins the story as a kind, honorable, wise beyond his years young men and is the same person when we last see him. Those around him do change however as the troubled Freya comes to understand that she cannot trust exciting but dangerous men like Trevor and she must get out of her small town to really find herself. We see Danny come to understand that Trevor is well meaning despite his meathead behavior and that Freya really does like him even if it is only infatuation. Every character, even Danny's parents who receive limited screen time, get sketched as complex people even while we are aware that we are seeing them through Danny's eyes therefore our view is not objective.
Taylor's performance is remarkable as he is able to play a quiet, sensitive young man who clearly feels things very deeply without isolating the audience. His immaturity as he leans into kiss Freya is clear even as his mature reaction to the discovery of her parentage feels like that of a much older man. Carmen is sweet and likable as the object of his affection and the tragedy of her pregnancy and love for an unreliable man. Mendelsohn is a great deal of fun as the unwise Trevor and his bizarre little laugh and utter carelessness are memorable. Judi Farr brings a great deal of warmth and integrity to her role as Danny's mother Sheila Embling and her subtle interrogation of her husband feels like a moment that occurs in real life not in a film.
This is a wonderful film that the entire family can take something away from and despite it's scene of Trevor and Freya kissing it's pretty kid friendly. The end of the film will leave you with a feeling of melancholy and a yearning for your youth. I felt a closeness to the characters in this film as they made decisions that felt like those of a kid and even the precocious, intelligent Danny could be stupid at the moments where it mattered most to appear as though he knew what he were doing. If you want a break from the films of John Hughes or Robert Luketic then this is a nice palette cleanser.
One of my fav movies :)
A worthwhile trip to early Sixties, small town, Australia where burgeoning youth learns that even the most innocent of lives here on Planet Earth is fraught with difficulty. While American media seduced via music and movies about the possibility of a better life possibly somewhere else, the local populace of this rural outpost have to live with the apparent drabness of their own situation. The natural performances of the leads and the writer/director's sure knowledge of his source material quietly deliver this laid back home cooked meal designed to satisfy. A great suggestion by a dear friend.
heaps good film, didnt like the little kid but hes a poof, chicks pretty hot ay but yeah worth watching for sure. im giving it a 17.8065 / 25.005. yeah
(*** 1/2): [img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon14.gif[/img]
A very good coming-of-age film. Touching and well-acted.
Between a 7/10 and 8/10, this funny, touching, truthful gem of a film is one of the ongoing pleasures of Australian cinema, and is as fresh and compelling on its 21st anniversary as it was on its acclaimed release.
One of my favorite films. It is so rich and so honest, the reality that love is not perfect or complete makes this film an interesting examination on growing up.
<i><b> This funny, touching, truthful gem of a film is one of the ongoing pleasures of Australian cinema. The characters are memorable ones, and beautifully played by the three young newcomers, with Noah Taylor especially effective as the lovesick Danny. He delivers marvellous, recognisable characters and Geoff Burton captures 1960s Australia (as well as the rolling landscape) with an eye for telling icons. The story is told from Danny's point of view, and he occasionally narrates bits of the story. Wonderful, perceptive, and original Australian film about the magic and anguish of adolescence. The tone is well judged between lighthearted coming of age and character drama, developing from the former seamlessly into the latter. A marvellous achievement. John Duigan's script is just about perfect, and his direction effortless and unfussy and flowing. <i></b>
VERDICT: "Better Than Anything" - My highest rating (Extremely Positive reaction). Usually I give this rating to a movie that I believe is absolutely outstanding and has little to no flaws in it. Audiences, who haven't seen this film, must see it right now!
The best Australian film ever made. Love it.
A wonderful little coming of age film from Australia starring a very young Noah Taylor in his first starring role. He plays a teen who is in love with a girl just a couple years older than but she only really thinks of him as a best friend. It starts out a little slow but the the scenery is great, the actors are all excellent, and the dialogue is very honest, so the film quickly pulls you in. Taylor is perfect and Loene Carmen is also excellent, they have great chemistry together. There's a sequel that came out a couple years later that I'm definitely gonna check out soon.