48 Shades, Daniel Lapaine
Critical Review and Bibliography
Release dates: 10/08/2006 - Brisbane Film Festival – Premiere
31/08/2006 - Nation Wide Release
07/02/2007 - DVD Retail Release
Release details: Wide National Release.
Duration: 96 mins
Website: www.48shadesmovie.com.au (Unavailable)
Filming Locations: Brisbane, QLD
Distributor: Buena Vista International
Awards: Nominated 2006 for two Inside Film Awards:
Best Music - Adam Lang & Justin Hunter
Best Production Design - Michelle Sotheren
Cast and Crew
Director: Daniel Lapaine
Producer: Rob Marsala
Production Company: Prima Productions Pty. Ltd.
Screenplay: Daniel Lapaine (Adapted from the novel 48 Shades of Brown by Nick Earls)
Music: Adam Lang
Original Music - Justin Hunter
Cinematography - Tony Luu
Film Editing - Nicola Scarrott, Frans Vandenburg
Casting - Faith Martin
Production Design - Michelle Sotheren
Art Direction - Christopher Cox
Costume Design - Xanthe Heubel, Emily Seresin
Richard Wilson (lead actor) as Dan
Richard Wilson made his feature film debut in the Australian film Deck Dogz from Oscar-nominated writer/director Steve Pasvolsky. In 2004 Richard was nominated for the 2004 AFI Award for Best Young Actor for his role as thinking girl’s sex symbol Miller McKee in the ABC TV kid’s series Out There.
In 2005 Richard starred in a pivotal role as Mike Burns, vulnerable younger brother to outlaws Charlie (Guy Pearce) and Arthur (Danny Huston) Burns in Nick Cave’s brutally compelling Australian feature, The Proposition, directed by John Hillcoat. This remarkable UK/Australian co-production also stars David Wenham, Emily Watson and Ray Winstone.
Robin McLeavy as Jacq
Robin McLeavy graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art in 2004.
In her first year out of NIDA Robin landed her first feature film role, playing Jacq in 48 Shades, based on the award-winning novel by Nick Earls and adapted/directed by Daniel Lapaine.
Robin’s first television appearance was in the Melbourne-based series Last Man Standing, playing Kellie, clingy girlfriend to Bruno, played by Travis McMahon (Kokoda).
Robin is currently working with director Jennifer Kent on her new feature film Metta, starring opposite Essie Davis (Girl with a Pearl Earring).
Emma Lung as Naomi
A graduate of Sydney’s Newtown High School of the Performing Arts, Emma furthered her training at Manhattan’s Professional Performing Arts School.
Emma’s feature film credits include Garage Days, Joel Silver’s big-budget horror film House of Wax and Superfire, however it was in The Interview director Craig Monahan’s Peaches that she played her first leading role opposite Hugo Weaving and Jacqueline McKenzie. Emma starred opposite Emily Browning in the black comedy Stranded, a short feature directed by Stuart McDonald.
Emma’s television credits include Temptation, The Cooks, White Collar Blue and All Saints and she has twice worked with director Benedict Andrews at Sydney Theatre Company, appearing in productions of Life is a Dream and Attempts on Her Life.
Nicholas Donaldson as Chris Burns
Nick’s initial break came at an early age being cast by the prolific children’s television program’s producer Jonathan M. Shiff, as Nicholas Redding in “Pirate Islands”. Prior to this, Nick had been involved with numerous projects at his school and local drama colleges.
In 2005, Nick was cast in “48 Shades” as Chris Burns – the feature adapted & directed by Daniel Lapaine from Nick Earls award winning novel. Currently Nick is studying drama at The Victorian College of the Arts.
Michael Booth as Phil
Michael is an actor, director and a writer. He studied acting in Chicago with Steppenwolf Theatre Company and in New York with The Atlantic Theatre Company.
Stage credits include Carnal Knowledge (Newtown Theatre), Who Smokes Kool? and Two For The Road (Old Fitzroy). Television appearances include All Saints, Home and Away, Comedy Inc. and Life Support. Michael has acted in several short films including Nash Edgerton’s Fuel, Peter Templeman’s The Saviour and Damon Herriman’s The Faking Game.
In 2002, Michael co-founded The Group Theatre with fellow actor Amos Szeps. The company has subsequently produced eight productions, including Hurlyburly, which was nominated for Best Independent Play at the 2005 Sydney Theatre Awards.
Michael will make his feature film debut in the soon to be released 48 Shades.
Victoria Thaine as Imogen
Victoria made her feature film debut in 2002 as Penny, the quirky blonde rock- promoter’s assistant in Paul Goldman’s The Night We Called it a Day, with Dennis Hopper, Melanie Griffith and fellow Australian Joel Edgerton. Following this, Victoria played the lead of Mara in the AFI Award nominated short feature Floodhouse, written and directed by Miro Bilbrough. The film also received a special mention at the 2005 Mannheim Heidelberg International Film Festival.
Victoria was cast as the lead Emily in the small town Australian drama Caterpillar Wish, a feature film alongside Susie Porter, written and directed by Sandra Sciberras and produced by Kate Whitbread.
Victoria’s television credits include Blue Heelers, the Bryan Brown directed anthology drama series Two Twisted, and telemovies Small Claims and Blackjack. A talented writer, Victoria’s plays Jumping and All That and Close to Home were produced in 2005.
(Pictures and Biographies from In Cinemas Now, http://www.incinemas.com.au/movies/moviepage.asp?MovieID=274)
Budget and Box Office Figures
In its opening week, 48 Shades only grossed AU$70,597. The total box office amount for 48 Shades was only AU$193,330 making it #214 out of the 307 films ranked in the 2006 Box Office (Movie Marshal, 2007).
According to the AFC (2007) “there were 333 films released into the Australian market in 2006… 29 of these were Australian … 23 features and 6 documentaries. The top-grossing Australian film, taking $11.1 million between its release on Boxing Day and 31 December, was Happy Feet…followed by… Kenny at $7.6 million and… Jindabyne at $5.3 million. Ten Canoes, Kokoda and Boytown each took over $3 million.”
Interviews with Filmmakers
David Stratton from At The Movies speaks with Director, Daniel Lapaine.
Mary Colbert, The Sydney Morning Herald. Article and interview with Daniel Lapaine, August 25, 2006.
Damien Madigan, Blue Mountains Gazette. Interview with Richard Wilson (Dan) about his recent films, including 48 Shades, June 22, 2006.
Article and Interview with Emma Lung (Naomi). The Age, August 6, 2006.
Article and Interview with Producer, Rob Marsala. The Sydney Morning Herald, February 14, 2005
At The Movies
The Blurb: David Edwards
Cinematic Intelligence Agency
The Film Pie
Journey Online (Queensland Uniting Church)
Montreal Film Festival (French)
New York Times
Sydney Morning Herald
48 Shades Information
In Cinemas Now: 48 Shades. http://www.incinemas.com.au/movies/moviepage.asp?MovieID=274
Synopsis of film, detailed Cast information as well as pictures.
Internet Movie Database: 48 Shades. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0476519/
Provides wealth of information on Cast and Crew, Production Dates and a brief synopsis.
Greater Union: 48 Shades. http://www.greaterunion.com.au/movies/whatsnew.asp?news=295
Details from the release of the film and a brief synopsis.
Popcorn Taxi. http://www.popcorntaxi.com.au/event.php?event_id=467
Details about the film, an advanced screening and a lot of information about the cast and crew.
Urban Cinefile: 48 Shades. http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/home/view.asp?a=12741&s=DVD
Brief synopsis following release of the DVD
VH1: 48 Shades. http://www.vh1.com/movies/movie/325827/details.jhtml
Production details, cast and crew details and synopsis.
Wikipedia: 48 Shades. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/48_Shades
Provides a brief synopsis as well as some production details
Other Interesting and Relevant Sites
AFC: Box Office Backgrounder for 2006. http://www.afc.gov.au/downloads/pubs/2006_bo_bg_final.pdf
Australian Film Commission backgrounder provides information on cinema releases in Australia in 2006 and the share of box office earned by Australian films.
Brisbane International Film Festival, 2006. http://www.biff.com.au/biff_2006/
General information on the festival as well as the films shown, including 48 Shades.
Justin Hunter. http://www.justinhunter.com.au/news.php?page=1
Just a bit of interesting information about artist Justin Hunter and his music being used for the soundtrack of 48 Shades.
Movie Marshal. http://www.moviemarshal.com.au/
Complete lists of movie Box Office information and release dates from Australia, USA and UK.
Nick Earls’ Website. http://www.nickearls.com/film.html
Details and information about adaptions of his work into films. Some nice information on 48 Shades and the festivals it has been shown at around the world.
IF Awards 2006. http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/home/view.asp?a=12353&s=Features
Complete list of IF Award nominations for 2006
Don’t even bother with these sites
AOL movies website. http://movies.aol.com/movie/48-shades/1329019/main
Not very informative at all. Limited information.
Yahoo Movie Site. http://au.movies.yahoo.com/48+Shades/movie/17217/
Hardly any onformation on this site.
48 Shades is the story of 16 year old Dan, who is staying with his Aunt, Jacq, and her roommate, Naomi, during his final year of school while his parents are away living in Geneva.
Between attending school and struggling with assignments on Romeo and Juliet, Dan falls for Naomi and goes out of his way to try and impress her. Dan endeavours to learn all 48 shades of brown, while managing to convince Naomi that he knows the scientific names of the more common birds in the area.
With a party involving a drunken land-lord in his underwear, a dog called Boner, his best friend throwing up in his bed and a girl he likes throwing up on him, Dan soon realises that in the undeniably fascinating year to come he will have a lot of learning and growing up to do.
Dan’s (RICHARD WILSON) parents have moved to Geneva and have left him in his final year of school to stay with his 22 year old, Bass playing, Lesbian, Aunt Jacq (ROBIN McLEAVY) and her beautiful yet air-headed housemate Naomi (EMMA LUNG).
Dan quickly discovers Naomi looking at him through the fish tank in the kitchen and immediately falls for her. After a picnic with his aunt and Naomi, Dan tries to impress Naomi by his (incorrect) knowledge of brown bird species and their scientific names, which leads Naomi to question how many shades of brown actually exist. Seizing the opportunity to further impress Naomi, Dan delves into researching and learning the 48 shades of brown.
While Dan struggles with his attempts to woo Naomi, Jacq struggles in her attempts to get rid of Phil (MICHAEL BOOTH), their ever helpful (and present) landlord who happens to have a not-so-secret crush on Jacq. While around their house, ‘pruning’ their tree, Dan lets slip to Phil about a party that Jacq and Naomi are having at the house, which Phil takes as an invitation and decides to attend.
Dan Attempts to make pesto for the party (to impress Naomi), which has to be discarded because of its high concentration of dirt and subsequently blames the ‘theft’ of the basil from the garden on Boner.
At the party, Dan fails to woo Naomi, Chris Burns fails to stay sober and Phil fails to entice Jacq which leads to an embarrassing half naked escapade between Phil and Boner.
Dan does manage to gain the interest of one of the girls at the party, although just as he is making progress, she throws up all over him.
In the morning Dan seems to understand that pursuing Naomi may not be such a good idea if they are to be living in the same house for the rest of the year. As a result of his experiences last night, Dan seems older and wiser and ready for the unpredictable year ahead with his Aunt and her roommate, and ready for any new romantic prospects that might come his way.
Prior to its release, there were high hopes and expectations for 48 Shades. Following the success of the novel, I think people assumed that the film would do just as well. It seemed that everyone was pretty positive about the film, especially the directing debut of Daniel Lapaine. There was also a lot of hype around the potential of lead actor, Richard Wilson. Here are some of the comments about the film before its release.
“With the might of film distribution company Buena Vista International behind it, 48 Shades has the potential to be that long-awaited Australian box office hit.”
Damien Madigan, Blue Mountains Gazette
“After sell-out sessions at the Brisbane International Film Festival, it's now your chance to see what all the buzz is about and catch this refreshing Australian movie 48 Shades before it releases in cinemas everywhere.”
Greater Union Cinema’s Website
“With more than 300 feature films screening this year, we can’t mention every session, but… 48 Shades - a world premiere and our fastest sell-out ever. The party following was packed to the rafters.”
Brisbane International Film Festival
Story-wise, the film doesn’t differ too much from the book and with regards to the actual storyline and themes within the film, I think people were generally positive. Rob Marsala talks about innocence of the film in an interview with The Age, "It was a coming-of-age story about young people that didn't involve smoking crack and chopping each other's hands off... There were no heists and guns being drawn and swinging baseball bats... It was a really simple, sweet story" (http://www.theage.com.au/news/film/growing-pains/2006/08/03/1154198267956.html)
“If you're up for some sweet escapism and a reminder of what it's like to yearn for the one you just can't have, 48 Shades is a frangipani infused delight.”
Tony Delroy, ABC Nightlife
“Its sun-speckled summer feel is a sharp contrast to other portrayals of teens currently filling our screens.”
“This is a refreshing Australian movie your bound to fall in love with.”
Greater Union Website
David Edwards from The Blurb agrees with this concept of the film as well, but also voices the criticism of many others, arguing that the film was lacking. He states that “48 Shades is an amusing little soufflé of a film; a light and fluffy little concoction that makes no pretensions towards being anything else” (http://www.theblurb.com.au/Issue69/48Shades.htm). It is these kind of comments that I found most predominant in my research. They were mostly along the lines that the book was great, but the film failed to live up to expectations. Comments about an inexperienced cast, an inexperienced director and lack of substance within the film are what mainly litter the reviews I have found.
“An author's voice is a strange thing. The stronger it is on the page, the more likely it is to fade away en route to the screen…But this film fails to catch the Earls style. For all its sunny looks and abundantly good intentions, it leaves his voice back on the page.”
Sandra Hall, Sydney Morning Herald.
“48 Shades is a very sweet film that tries hard, but ultimately doesn’t quite get there.”
Megan Spencer , Triple J
“48 Shades is never frankly bad, however its failure to achieve any depth of character means it is a poor substitute for Earls' novel.”
Mark Lavercombe, Hoopla.Nu.
“First-time director Daniel Lapaine... has the film stuck in first gear.”
Jim Schembri, The Age
To sum up the majority of the reviews I have read, the film was quaint, sweet and cute. It portrayed the relaxed Brisbane lifestyle and atmosphere perfectly. While the characters and performances within the film were awkward and clunky, they did reflect the awkward nature of teenage relationships and life that Nick Earl’s novel expressed with ease. The overall result was not as good as people had hoped it would be, but then again, films never really do live up to the expectations created by the books they are based upon. Having been a big fan of the 48 Shades of Brown, the film was a letdown as it didn’t grasp Nick Earl’s words or try to entwine them within the context of the film. Personally, I think the film could have done with a voice-over, using the same comically infused words of Dan in the book.
Subsequent/Prior Work of Director and Writer, Daniel Lapaine
Daniel Lapaine started his career as an actor and worked in theatre before moving into film. His first appearance on film was in the P. J. Hogan film, Muriel’s Wedding (1994), where he played David Van Arckle, the South African swimmer husband of Muriel. Since Muriel’s Wedding, Daniel has acted in many television series’ as well as several films, including Brokedown Palace (1999), Double Jeopardy (1999) and The Abduction Club (2002). As a director, Daniel’s first feature film was 48 Shades although he had directed two short films as well. As for future work, according to The New York Times (http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/444441/The-Sweet-Light-of-Change/overview) it has been announced that Daniel will be directing a new film which he has written, The Sweet Light of Change, alongside 48 Shades producer Rob Marsala, starring David Wenham.
Subsequent/Prior Work of Producer, Rob Marsala
I have not been able to find a whole lot of information on Rob Marsala, except mostly for his producing of 48 Shades as well as the announced The Sweet Light of Change with Daniel Lapaine.
There is a brief background on Rob on the Popcorn Taxi website which says that Rob Marsala is the “President and owner of Marsala Management and represents actors, writers and directors including Aussie actors Frances O'Connor… Kylie Minogue and Magda Szubanski; and Aussie directors, Rowan Woods… and Rob Connolly… His other clients include writers Parker & Jennewein and actors Jay Ferguson… and Amanda Foreman. Prior to starting his own company, Rob was a manager at the Bauer Co. for 7 years and worked at United Talent Agency in LA and the not-for-profit Independent Feature Project in New York. Rob is also a President of Australians in Film, a not-for-profit organization designed to promote Australians and the Australian Film Industry in the US... He has an MBA majoring in Media Management & Communications at Fordham University in New York and an LLB and BJuris from the Law School at the University of Western Australia” (http://www.popcorntaxi.com.au/event.php?event_id=467).
Subsequent/Prior Work of Cinematographer, Tony Luu
Tony’s work includes a wealth of Music Videos, Short Films and TV commercials. He has been nominated for and has won many awards including the 2006 Tropfest award for Best Cinematography for his work on the short film Silencer. He was also highly commended for his work on 48 Shades by the ACS Queensland.
He has worked on music videos for many Australian bands and artists. Some of the bands are Silverchair, Powderfinger, Missy Higgins, Butterfingers, Evermore, Machine Gun Fellatio, Shannon Noll, Gerling and The Sleepy Jackson, for which he has also received several awards. His more recent television commercials include ads for Fisher and Paykel, Kellogg’s, Nature’s Own, Cornetto and the Australian Rugby Union.
He has a whole range of pictures and QuickTime movies on his website http://www.tonyluudop.com
Subsequent/Prior Work of Actor, Richard Wilson
Richard Wilson’s first appearance on screen was in 2001 when he starred in the Australian sitcom, Flat Chat. He also had several roles in the TV series’ McLeod's Daughters, All Saints and was nominated in 2004 for the AFI’s Best Young Actor Award for his role in the series Out There.
According to Popcorn Taxi,Richard “made his feature film debut in the Australian film Deck Dogz from Oscar-nominated writer/director Steve Pasvolsky… In 2005 Richard starred in a pivotal role as Mike Burns, vulnerable younger brother to outlaws Charlie (Guy Pearce) and Arthur (Danny Huston) Burns in Nick Cave’s brutally compelling Australian feature, The Proposition, directed by John Hillcoat… also stars David Wenham, Emily Watson and Ray Winstone” (http://www.popcorntaxi.com.au/event.php?event_id=467). Richard’s latest film Clubland, directed by Cherie Nowlan, saw him playing a young man with cerebral palsy.
Richard’s next film is currently in production, to be released sometime this year. The film is Birthday, written and directed by James Harkness. Richard plays Joey, a “25-year-old boy who has never kissed a girl before… on a desperate search for someone to connect with” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1199778/maindetails).
The uptake of this film into the market was not great, but I do not believe that it is a reflection on the contemporary Australian film market. I think it was just because it was a bad film.
According to the AFC “The total box office in Australia for 2006 was $866.6 million,” of which “Australian films earned $40.0 million or 4.6 per cent of the total Australian box office in 2006... This represents an increase from last year’s 2.8 per cent,” (http://www.afc.gov.au/downloads/pubs/2006_bo_bg_final.pdf).
With Happy Feet being the top-grossing Australian film for 2006, taking $11.1 million in the five day period from its release on 26 December until 31 December, I think that Australian films have huge market horizons and possibilities. It could be argued that Happy Feet does not truly reflect the Australian film market because of its status as a computer animated film. But if you wanted to see an almost true to life Australian film you don’t have to look any further than Kenny. This low budget representation of a seemingly typical Australian Port-a-loo businessman/plumber/entrepreneur took in $7.6 million.
I think that if 48 Shades was a better film it could have done fairly well out of the Australian Box Office, because as Kenny showed, the Australian film is a valued part of the movie industry.
48 Shades is a Coming-of Age film in its essence, with Dan’s struggles with relationships, friendships and parties. The film is about his growth as an awkward and immature teen into a better adapted young adult. Through his experiences in the film, Dan learns that you don’t need to learn the names of birds, or all 48 shades of brown to impress people. He learns that sharing a house and living independently means becoming responsible and acting like an adult.
This film, as stated by many of its reviewers, is such a great example of Australian life. Set in Brisbane, the feeling is relaxed and laid back, reflective of the city and, to a greater extent, the Australian lifestyle. Sitting on the veranda of your stilted-house, on a warm and sunny day, drinking tea or beer or whatever takes your fancy.
This film doesn’t really deal with big issues. None of the greater worldly problems are presented, no news of war, global warming or anything to dampen the fluffy, chilled out feel of the film. It is this that I think allows 48 Shades to fit in well with Australian cinema. Sure the acting may need a bit of work, but the sense of Australianness is there.