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The Coca-Cola Kid

Coca-Cola Kid, The (Dusan Makaveyev, 1985) wr. Frank Moorhouse, based on two of his short stories; Eric Roberts, Greta Scacchi, Bill Kerr, Chris Haywood, Max Gillies, Kris McQuade, Tony Barry, Paul Chubb, David Slingsby, Tim Finn; Oedipal struggle of son against father, among many other things

I saw The Coca-Cola Kid at last. What an astonishing cast and crew! Some of whom I didn’t see until the credits rolled. I don’t know much about Eric Roberts, but I had noticed Greta Scacchi, whose photo I’m told used to be on the back of buses in Perth years ago advertising something. I must have been out of town. I would have remembered. And dear Bill Kerr has a central role. And then there’s Rebecca Smart, who was Bryan Brown’s shiralee; and Chris Haywood (being angry again) and the late Esben Storm, whom I only noticed in the credits, not being that familiar with his appearance. David Argue always looks dangerous, even when only selling newspapers. Tim Finn acts as well as doing the songs. Colleen Clifford, who was a lovely grande dame of the theatre appears: she used to run the Theatre Guild in Perth. I remember seeing a panto there, possibly as early as 1961 or even 1960, with songs by Noël Coward. Kris McQuade has always been a favourite of mine, more because of Mullet than her appearance as the first topless girl in the first Alvin. Her taxi-driver in Better Than Sex also springs to mind. And who should be 3rd assistant director but Stephan Elliott?! And I haven’t even mentioned the director yet! Dusan M made WR [Wilhelm Reich] - Mysteries of the Orgasm, which was released with ‘Organism’ in the title instead. And he followed that up with Sweet Movie, the weirdest movie I’d ever seen until that date (1974). It’s just a pity all that went into a film written mostly by Frank Moorhouse.

Unfortunately, the finished film lacks Makavejev's outrageousness. He packs the film with interesting characters ... But the results are fairly chaotic, and not in the positive sense of the director's earlier films. Nor is the imported American actor Eric Roberts a great success in the leading role; an actor with a better sense of comedy timing would have helped enormously. Stratton: 323.

Perhaps the most charitable notion that could be advanced to defend the film is that Makavejev's celebration of anarchic 'schizo systems' naturally extends to the film-making process itself, resulting in a work that is perhaps deliberately 'decentred', shifting and blissfully contradictory. Adrian Martin, Murray: 166.

Garry Gillard | New: 22 October, 2012 | Now: 1 March, 2020