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Cloudstreet (Matthew Saville, 2011) TV series, wr. Ellen Fontana, Tim Winton, novel by Tim Winton; prod. Greg Haddrick, Brenda Pam, dp Mark Wareham, pd Herbert Pinter; Essie Davis, Stephen Curry, Todd Lasance, Emma Booth, Kerry Fox, Geoff Morrell, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Tom Russell, Callan McAuliffe, Lara Robinson, Shannon Lively, Sean Keenan, Will Mattock, Reece Sardelic, Freya Tingley, Siobhan Dow-Hall, Annie Smith, Sarah McKellar, Adam Sollis, Amanda Woodhams, Ron Haddrick (narrator [producer's father]), Greg McNeill, Milly Haddrick, Ben Mortley, Bruce Spence, Kelton Pell, Shaquita Nannup, Billie-Jean Hamlet, Michelle Stanley, Julia Moody, Anna Bauert, Sarah Louella, Natalie Holmwood, Melanie Munt, Oliver Ackland, Ethan Thomas, Laura Fairclough, David Bowers, Helen Doig, Richard Adams, Jodie Mead, Sean Walsh, Matthew Elverd, Angelique Malcolm
As a TV series, this would not normally be included in this database, but the quality of the production is so high that I'm making an exception. The cinematography and production design are as good as those of any Australian feature, and I suspect that everyone—from brilliant director Matthew Saville down to the caterers and Stephen Curry's hand double—all aspired to the magnificence of Tim Winton's visionary concept. I should think the main reason it was made as a 4.5hr TV show is simply that there's too much material to cram into 90min.
(I mention the hand double, by the way, because I was so pleased to see the credit, as I assumed it was CGI—but it was a real hand. I have my doubts about the aeroplane, however.)
But it's the acting that I particularly want to hyperbolise about, and I want especially to mention: everyone. As soon as I think of singling out Tom Russell, say, I immediately counter that with Kerry Fox, say—let alone Essie Davis, who is outstanding, if anyone can be in such a large ensemble cast.
There might even be some point in mentioning some actors who were a little disappointing, given that I've already said the production as a whole is top-class. I saw Todd Lasance in The Great Gold Swindle (2012) before I saw him in this, so found him a little under-developed here. Excellent actor, and a nice guy. Amanda Woodhams, like many other good actors here, had too small a part to do much with it. I'm waiting impatiently to seeing her starring role in Sororal, which should have been released by the time of writing. Geoff Morrell is a reliable actor here in a very large part, and is a bit too much the same—but he would say that's in the nature of his character, and he might be right. Stephen Curry, as a perhaps intentional contrast, was too exaggerated and insensitive: his performance was the one thing that makes this look like a TV show.
Others were way beyond good: Kerry Fox, Essie Davis, and both the actors who played Fish Lamb: Hugo Johnstone-Burt as the older and Tom Russell as the younger version. The latter is such a good actor that I hope he has something like a normal life along the way: he looks to me to be headed for major stardom, with all its dangers.
Tim Winton is said not to know whether his novel, and consequently this production, is any good. The latter will always be up there with any Australasian TV production. Whether either or both are Great Art I'll have to leave for another generation to decide. (I personally don't like the novel—but I should get over that: it might be like not liking War and Peace.)
Garry Gillard | New: 1 August, 2013 | Now: 1 March, 2020