Jasmin Rule Critical Review MCC231

 

WEST

Cast and Crew

Producer:  Anne Robinson and
                   Matthew Reeder  
Director:   Daniel Krige
Writer:      Daniel Krige
Music:       Andrew Lancaster and
                  David McCormack
Cast:         Khan Chittenden
                  Nathan Phillips

                  Gillian Alexy

                  Michael Dorman
                  David Field
                  Anthony Hayes
                  Tim McCann
                  Felicity Soper
                  Yeal Stone

Release Date: July 5th 2007
Budget: $1.2 Million
Production company: Palace Films

Bibliography of Interviews:
West online newspaper article:
Sandra Hall,http://www.thewest.com.au/aapstory.aspx?StoryName=397884
“It's all kind of inspired by things that happened to me or happened to my friends or people I knew," Krige said.

Interview with IndiVision

http://www.afc.gov.au/newsandevents/afcnews/converse/west/newspage_247.aspx
‘No. The script has been around for quite a while. I wrote the first draft back in 1986 and have been working on it in fits and starts since….’

Bibliography of Reviews

Paul Byrnes
http://australianscreen.com.au/titles/west/

Kerry Bashford http://www.yourmovies.com.au/movies/?action=movie_info&title_id=28570

Matt Raver

http://infilm.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/west.jpg&imgrefurl=

 

http://www.afc.gov.au/filmsandawards/recentfilms/cannes06/feature_201.aspx&h=102&w=102&sz=67&tbnid=_3bdhJnugvAJ:&tbnh=102&tbnw=102&prev=/images%3Fq%3DGillian%2BAlexy&hl=en&sa=X&oi=image_result&resnum=1&ct=image&cd=1

 

http://www.smh.com.au/news/film-reviews/west/2007/06/29/1182624141237.html

 

Online Presence

West does not have a very widespread online presence with few sites dedicated to the film and even fewer mentioning it. As the film is relatively new and not very exposed the online presence will hopefully increase this year.

  1. IndiVision: http://www.afc.gov.au/newsandevents/afcnews/converse/west/newspage_247.aspx
  2. MovieFix: http://www.yourmovies.com.au/movies/index.cfm?action=movie_info&title_id=28570
  3. Infilm: http://www.infilm.com.au
  4. The internet Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0732381/
  5. Australian screen: http://australianscreen.com.au/titles/west/
  6. Inside film Magazine: http://www.if.com.au/Review/View.aspx?newsid=85

 

 

Critical Review:

Synopsis: Released in 2007 West is an Australian feature film that has recently been introduced to movie outlets and retailers. The film follows a group of young adults as they roll through life doing drugs and constantly binge drinking, struggling through aggression, depression and having no expectations for their futures. As two cousins Pete and Jerry fall for the same girl a love triangle emerges that shapes the film. As Jerry takes somewhat positive steps to better his life, Pete constantly makes bad decisions finding himself in over his head.

West starts by introducing the two main characters Pete (Khan Chittenden) and Jerry (Nathan Phillips), cousins and best friends, drinking and getting high in a dirty canal filled with graffiti, rubbish and a worn out mattress; a haven for drugs, sex and violence. Getting geared up for a night out the identities of the characters is presented here in the first scene. Jerry presented as a lovable larrikin he surprisingly talks about making plans for the year and “getting out”, while Pete a somewhat outsider comments “you make plans they fuck up you get depressed”. It is also here in the first scene where the audience is introduced to the infatuation Pete has with a girl Cheryl (Gillian Alexy).

After spending a night at their local pub Jerry grabs the attention of Cheryl while a stoned-out Pete walks home with his friend Mick (Michael Dorman) discussing his loss. While Jerry has fun with Cheryl, Pete gets bashed and robbed by an older thug Gary Kenwood and his friends who Pete offended when he refused to sell drugs to earlier. 

Jerry, wanting to turn his life around gets a job in a local take away shop, even though discouraged by his cousin, he tries to stick with it while dating Cheryl. Pete deals drugs to make money; he believes it will make him enough to get out, however after the attack by Kenwood he starts selling harder drugs to pay back his supplier Steve. While Jerry keeps working and falls in love with his girlfriend Cheryl, Pete spirals out of control, he consumes more drugs than he sells, has an affair with Cheryl behind Jerry’s back and ends up bashing Kenwood to death after another drug related altercation. Even though Pete’s friend Mick becomes a paraplegic after getting ran over by a car he still selfishly parties hard not caring for anyone’s lives.

As the audience feels for Jerry who is on the right track to getting his life together you watch grippingly as Pete manages to ruin this by his out of control ways. Cheryl gets pregnant and decides to tell Jerry about her affair with Pete. Betrayed by his best mate and his lover Jerry burns down his childhood cubby house and meets up with Pete in the canal for the last time. The emotional scene between Jerry and Pete leads to Pete finally admitting he killed Kenwood, he comes to terms with his mistakes. “You need people to hate just like you need people to love,” said Pete. After drinking and arguing with Pete, Jerry says sorry and walks off. Visibly distraught Jerry calls the police, and in a last attempt to save his cousin admits he is the wanted murderer of Kenwood, Jerry then succeeds to take his final steps onto a railway track standing in front of an oncoming train. Pete devastatingly watches his cousin die and finally realizes what a destructive life he has lived. Pete turns himself in and does time in prison for his actions. Learning the hard way of the consequences of their dangerous lives Pete and Cheryl realise the life of their new baby is more important than getting high and partying hard.

 

Commentary:
West is a great Australian film, its edgy story and gritty setting bring life to the social and economical problems facing many Australians today. The film covers love, deception, sex, death, violence and suicide. The characters depth gave life to the issues usually unseen in mainstream Australian drama’s, there was no sugar coating just the gritty truth of what life is like in the low sociol-economic suburbs and how troubled young adults try to figure out their lives while trying to stay alive. There were some exceptional performances by Gillian Alexy and Khan Chittenden they were able to capture the troubled characters, making them real, real enough to reach out to the audience. Nathan Phillips gave a good performance of Jerry. Throughout the film he was just rolling along being a funny guy succeeding in being lovable to the audience, but really excelled in the final scenes were his emotion reflected so much it made me sit anxiously on the edge of my seat.

West really delivers, it sends strong messages about the transition into adulthood and as a drama it accomplishes what its set out to do, show an emotional journey in which audiences can feel for and or relate to. The music fitted well throughout the film and was able to energise some scenes without over powering them.

Overall the film was great it touched on issues affecting Australians today and was very believable, the film was a true drama it developed greatly and the plot was smooth with each event leading up to the climax being more and more thrilling to audiences. 


Critical uptake:
The critical uptake of the film was positive during the time of its release and subsequently. Many reviews and articles were anticipating the work of Daniel Krige and excited about his script. The reviews loved the gritty material and were glad Daniel Krige had brought the issues in the film to the mainstream cinema and media. There was one review in which had only negative comments, it complained about the cinematography and was disappointed about the technical side of production, the review also disliked the script mentioning you could tell it was written in Krige’s teen years and went on to say. ‘The violence is gruesome and cinematic, a devalued narrative currency which ups the ante artificially, until the characters’ motivations becomes unrecognisable or plain hard to believe,’(Matt Raver). The reviews were mixed with many positive comments and few negatives. Many relate the film to Two Hands and Somersault in terms of its appeal and success.

Production and release:
Released in July 2007 West was written and directed by Daniel Krige. He started working on the script when he was 16 and took 20 years to complete. West had a budget of $1.2 million and was filmed in HD. The low budget meant there could be no stunts yet amazingly allowed the producers Anne Robinson and Matthew Reeder along with Daniel Krige to be more creative. The script was never affected by HD or money as it was a story written about the lives of Daniel Krige and his friends, real stories about people that grow up in Sydney’s Western suburbs.  Production started when the film was selected from the 2005 IndiVision Project Lab and was greenlit for production. West was selected as one of two Australian feature films (along with Razzle Dazzle) to be premiered in Berlin, February 2007, screened as part of the Generation Kplus program.

Situating the film:
Daniel Krige:
(Writer and director)
With experience in writing and directing Daniel Krige has many short films under his belt, along with the film Still Twisted which featured Bryan Brown as an actor and producer. He started writing when he was 16 and wrote many scripts for Grundy Television. At 21 Daniel Krige began directing and having international success with the short films Our Feral Friends, Fuckwit and Happily Ever After. After writing and directing many successful short films Daniel has taken a turn towards the big screen and directed solely on West. Krige has always gone against the norm and presented stories that are real, his work has lead up to the filming of West and enabled him to create something with truth and meaning.

Anne Robinson:
(Producer)
Starting off producing short films Anne Robinson has worked her way through making music videos for artists such as Delta Goodrem, and various documentaries. West is her first feature and she is currently working on making more.

Matthew Reeder:
(Producer)
Matt Reeder is used to working with low budget productions and previously produces music videos for Sony. West is also Matthews’s first feature.

  1. Both producers had previous work with film and music videos, they used there talent to help make West the film it is. The experience with music videos gave the film the energy to keep it standing the whole way through.

 

Khan Chittenden:
Khan Chittenden has worked on many television series including a new series on FOX8 Dangerous, in this series he plays a simular character as on West. His character Dean is trying to live in a crime filled suburb, he gets involved with the wrong people but unlike in West Khan’s Dangerous character is very caring and an audience favourite. Khan has more recently filmed Clubland released also in 2007; here he shows a different side of him in a comedy. Khan is able to make a non likeable character loved by the audience, he was well suited for the part due to his prior work and experience.

Gillian Alexy: Gillain like Khan has also featured on Australian television series, with a role on McLeod’s Daughters, and has featured in 2 episodes of All Saints. Her characters were very different to Cheryl on West her first major feature. Gillian was able to bring her character to life and even though previously played shy and submissive characters she was able to dominate the screen as a non-classy girl from a bad neighbourhood.

Nathan Phillips: previously worked on many Australian films, most known for his roles in Wolf Creek and Snakes on a Plane he has played numerous characters and his experiences enabled him to fill the emotional role of Jerry.

Market Horizons:
Australian film is not widespread; the video store where I rented West only had one copy and no posters or any merchandise to intrigue customers. I never saw advertisement for the film and even though it was released in cinemas on July 5th 2007, I couldn’t find any evidence of which cinemas and what box office figures the film produced. To me it seems audiences are still naive about Australian cinema and think its not as good as American blockbusters, typically people (especially Australians, unfortunately) believe all Australian films are like The Castle. Hopefully more people will rent or buy this film and eventually stores take on more than one copy. It is sad but the general value of Australian film is only strong for a minority of people in the market place.  As West has sourced good reviews I gather the film will be a success, the actors are all known and are growing in popularity as well as the writer/director Daniel Krige. There is a need for real dramas and greatly produced Australian films, if so then market horizons will increase and more Australian films be accepted as the norm. New television series like Underbelly and Canal Road as well as Satisfaction on pay TV like West are going against the norm of typical Australian dramas, they are growing in popularity and making way for more audiences to appreciate racy subjects on the big screen.
                               
Australian Cinema; Type and Genre:
West clearly covers many genres, however I believe the overall type of film that West is, is a social problem film. The film deals with crime, family melodrama and has aspects of a teenpic. The film dramatises ‘topical social issues,’ (Garry Gillard 2008) and thus ‘combines social analysis and dramatic conflict within a coherent narrative structure,’ (Garry Gillard 2008).

More openly a drama and typed as a social problem film West’s sub genres allow it to bring many issues to the forefront. The melodrama of the family situation is shown through Khan Chittenden’s character. Pete has evidently gone through numerous family issues, although never mentioned, he deals with his life’s problems by doing drugs and continuously binge drinking. The family structure shown in the film has it’s own problems with Jerry’s dad being openly abusive towards Pete. This can be related to another Australian film, Mallboy. This film along with West covers drug and alcohol abuse and a broken family.

West shows similarities to other films and seems to be one of the more recent Australian films that delves into the issue of suicide. However this does parallel back to 1955 with the Australian film Jedda, the main character in this film is torn between two loves and the film ends with Jedda (the lead role) and a male companion jumping of a cliff. The social problem of suicide is present and common in today’s society, it is not discussed often so by the film presenting the issue depression can be brought out form the dark and be seen as a talkable subject.  

The film The FJ Holden can be related to West as they both present simular views on sexual relations. With characters in both films being purely disrespectful to themselves and their partners. The FJ Holden show sexual relations happening in the back of a Van while West shows it occurring on the floor of a dirty canal.

Appealing to the demographic of 16-25 West is relatable due to the social settings that the film encounters, therefore introducing its mentioned sub genre of a teenpic, this genre is very diverse and along with melodrama enables the audience to react and have emotional responses to the film.

West is presented as an Australian film yet the setting and narrative can be related to any country and anybody.  It has unique aspects that make it Australian such as the use of swearing, being prominent in the characters vocabulary and the dress sense is somewhat Bogan and trashy.

With getting high and drinking the number one priority of the characters West brings to life an issue affecting more and more not only young adults but teenagers and adults throughout Australia. Issues such as drug use, unsafe sex, rape and violence are all shown and discussed, the film therefore does not hide real issues as gruesome as they may be, but introduces issues that have devastating affects on Australians today.
                          
 Reference:
Garry Gillard, 2008. Ten Types of Australian Film. Second edition, published by Murdoch University.

Inside film Magazine: http://www.if.com.au/Review/View.aspx?newsid=85. Visited 10th April 2008.

Kerry Bashford, 2007. MovieFix. http://www.yourmovies.com.au/movies/?action=movie_info&title_id=28570. Visited 10th April 2008.

Paul Byrnes, 2007. Australian Screen. http://australianscreen.com.au/titles/west/. Visited 1st April 2008.

Sandra Hall, 2007. The Sydney Morning Herald, http://www.smh.com.au/news/film-reviews/west/2007/06/29/1182624141237.html. Visited 1st April 2008.

The Internet Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0732381/. Visited 6th April 2008.

2005, IndiVision. http://www.afc.gov.au/newsandevents/afcnews/converse/west/newspage_247.aspx. Visited 1st April 2008.

2007, Matt Raver, www.infilm.com.au. Visited 1st April 2008

2007, The West Australian online newspaper. http://www.thewest.com.au/aapstory.aspx?StoryName=397884. Visited 6th April 2008.

2007, IndiVision.com, 2007, IndiVision.com, http://www.afc.gov.au/filmsandawards/recentfilms/cannes06/feature_201.aspx&h=102&w=102&sz=67&tbnid=_3bdhJnugvAJ:&tbnh=102&tbnw=102&prev=/images%3Fq%3DGillian%2BAlexy&hl=en&sa=X&oi=image_result&resnum=1&ct=image&cd=1. Visited 6th April 2008.