The King is Dead!

The King is Dead! (Rolf de Heer, 2012) Dan Wyllie, Bojana Novakovic, Gary Waddell, Luke Ford, Lani John Tupu, Anthony Hayes; 'nice little comedy about neighbours, amphetamines and Maoris'

So this is black comedy? The comedy is not so evident for this viewer, but the black is obvious, in more ways than two. At about 2/3 of the way in, it's hard to see anything. That's just before the Maoris arrive. Apparently, when they do, I am meant to find people having their knee joints smashed by enormous men with baseball bats amusing. NOT.
I found this simply unpleasant, despite the best efforts of the principals: Dan Wyllie, Bojana Novakovic and Gary Waddell. The latter was up against Chris O'Dowd for Best Actor in the 2013 AACTAs. While Waddell's performance is ordinary (which I take to be his quite appropriate response to the script and direction), at least he is acting. (Joel Edgerton should have won, however.)
It's good to see Wyllie cast in a straight role. And Novakovic is charming.

Tapping into the frustration of anyone with ghastly neighbours and soaring into black comedy mode, Rolf de Heer has made a taut, tense, funny film that features simply wonderful performances from Dan Wyllie and Bojana Novakovic and Gary Waddell is hilarious. Design is great, Ian Jones' cinematography absolutely first rate as you would expect and Tania Nehme's editing seamless. Margaret Pomeranz, At the Movies.

I'm a huge fan of Rolf de Heer's films. I think The Tracker and Ten Canoes and Bad Boy Bubby and Alexandra's Project are some of the best Australian films, so I love his work. This was a much more conventional film from him, I thought, and it wasn't a subject that particularly excited me, I have to say. David Stratton, At the Movies.

It's a far cry from Ten Canoes for Rolf de Heer, but his wicked sense of fun is evident as it was in that much acclaimed 2006 film. This black comedy is unpredictable and edgy, starting as a suburban domestic conflict between neighbours, developing into a crime thriller with darkly comic sensibilities. Andrew L. Urban, Urban Cinefile.

Even when de Heer somewhat frustratingly and deliberately labours the point, and the conclusion is delightfully over-the-top The King is Dead manages to keep audiences off-balance throughout, both through content and Ian Jones's arresting photography. Satirically dissecting the middle-class as much as it is mocking 'the other', de Heer is commenting on the current climate of fear through a very funny, and sometimes quite spooky, examination of the suburbs. Richard Gray, thereelbits.


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