The Sound of One Hand Clapping

Sound of One Hand Clapping, The (Richard Flanagan, 1998) wr. Richard Flanagan from his own novel, prod. Rolf de Heer, exec. prod. Steve Vizard, Andrew Knight, Jackie O'Sullivan, dp. Martin McGrath; Kerry Fox, Kristof Kaczmarek, Rosie Flanagan, Melita Jurisic, Jacek Koman, Evelyn Krape, Essie Davis; 93 min.; Slovenians in Tasmania; mostly positive review by Brian McFarlane, Cinema Papers, 124, May 1998: 36

This is as dismal a film as any you'll ever have to suffer through. The story is about alcoholism, domestic violence, sexual interference with a child, cultural deracination and intolerance, and an unwanted pregnancy—all shown in miserable circumstances in both habitation and climate. I put off seeing it for fifteen years; I should have waited longer—indefinitely.

Given pretty much a free hand to bring his vision to the screen as few novelists are, writer-director Flanagan has done a generally solid job, though there’s little variation in the generally gloomy tone of the drama. Technical credits are pristine, with cinematographer Martin McGrath evocatively capturing the damp, chilly atmosphere of Australia’s smallest state. Notable, too, is the beautiful music score of Cezary Skubiszewski. David Stratton, Variety.


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