Four of a Kind

Four of a Kind (Fiona Cochrane, 2008) wr. Helen Collins; Peta Brady, Nina Landis, Leverne McDonnell, Robert Tabiah, Louise Siversen; drama thriller

I thought I was paying attention, but I actually lost count of how many people got killed, let alone who killed them. ... This had been a stage play. The director didn't conceal this, merely adding selected cinematic illustrations of what the characters talk about. The strangest thing is that there is no music at all during the drama, but in each of the divisions between the four sections of the play there is a performance of a song, if that's the word I want, by a band called Joe Camilleri and the Black Sorrows. I assume Joe is an Australian now, but sings in that phony Nashville Texas accent for which there should be a name. They're recorded in studio sessions, and ... there's really nothing polite I can say about them, so I'll say no more. Oh, and the other thing about this film is that it has production design that is so minimal that it's noticeable. Even amateur play sets have more dressing. Those are some of my excuses for not following the plot. Louise Keller seems to have paid more attention, bless her.

Cochrane keeps us guessing until the very end before we see where she is taking us. Omitting the truth can be as devastating as telling a lie, and there are many truths omitted.
Performances are all excellent, especially McDonnell's Gina who allows us to understand the journey from victim to perpetrator with great clarity. Universal in its appeal, but with special resonance to women, this seemingly simple film is deceptively complex, and lingers accordingly. Louise Keller, Urban Cinefile.

Director Fiona Cochrane's feature debut, after a lengthy career in documentaries and short films, has been worth the wait. Four of a Kind, yet another quality Australian release for this calendar year, is an adaptation by Helen Collins of her own play, Disclosure. Remaining faithful to its origins, the film is structured as four self-contained but interconnected acts, each becoming more intriguing as lines are drawn between the main characters; all share dark secrets, either concealed or indulged by words that, rather than lie, simply 'omit the truth' in serving some indistinct, ulterior purpose. David O'Connell, 20/20 Filmsight.

A dialogue-driven work made on a low budget, there is nevertheless something effective about these constraints; Cochrane has used and embraced them to bring out the disturbing implications that underpin the tales. Philippa Hawker, The Age.

The 60 locations selected for the film were used in as many ways possible. One restaurant was utilised for four different location shots, as was Cochrane's house, while crew was at a premium. Cinematographer Zbigniew Friedrich, who also edited the film, shot the actors' dialogue in one week. The sound recordist was only on set for the dialogue scenes with the unit manager / second A.D. 'swinging the microphone' when necessary. With no camera assistant or gaffer, Cochrane chose to avoid 'big set ups.' Friedrich instead worked alone, often with just one light. Kylie Boltin, SBS Film.

Helen [Collins]'s career began as a secondary teacher before she moved on to working as a statewide curriculum consultant in drama and the arts. In 1988 she established Wordsense and worked as a freelance editor for a variety of government departments, and as a sessional lecturer at Victoria University.
In 2007 she completed a Masters of Conflict Resolution at La Trobe University. She currently works in Victoria Police's Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Centre. australianplays.org

Fiona Cochrane page at the Melbourne Independent Filmmakers site

Wikipedia entry for Four of a Kind


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