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Australia Day

Australia Day (Kriv Stenders, 2017) wr. Stephen M. Irwin, dp Geoffrey Hall; Bryan Brown, Isabelle Cornish; drama; Sydney FF, June

I tried to see this as being like Lantana in its complexity, but Ray Lawrence's superb film is complex in one thematic area, couples in relationships. This film is so complex that I feel it would not repay an attempt to justify its narrative structure, so I'm not going to even think about starting to do so.

Is the film about racially motivated gang violence, like The Combination? Is it a study of disenfranchised youth, like The Finished People or Wasted on the Young? Is it about the dangers of drug addiction, like Pure Shit? An exposé about human trafficking and sex slaves, à la The Jammed and parts of Goldstone? An examination of Aboriginal people relegated to the outskirts of city life, as in The Fringe Dwellers?
Stephen M. Irwin's nothing-if-not-ambitious screenplay touches on all these things, but, biting off more than it can chew, it is ultimately about none of them. A story with plenty of sparks and no fire. Luke Buckmaster.

Luke Buckmaster refers to the large number of matters raised by this film, but his rhetoric takes him too far: the film is about the things he mentions.

So I should add (2020) that it is a very sophisticated film with great complexity, and touching a large number of thematic (social problem) issues: sex slavery; racism - of more than one kind, directed both at Indigenous people and also recent immigrants; economic problems - in particular to do with the agricultural sector; old age ... it's a long list. There are a couple of narrative links between the stories, but the various strands are not brought together in a meaningful way. 10/10 for intention and effort, but only 6/10 for carrying them out.


Garry Gillard | New: 8 July, 2018 | Now: 22 August, 2020