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Lost Things (Martin Murphy, 2004) wr. Stephen Sewell; Leon Ford (Garry), Charlie Garber (Brad), Lenka Kripac (Emily), Alex Vaughan (Tracey), Steve Le Marquand (Zippo); four teenagers stranded on spooky beach; horror; brief review: Oscar Hillerstrom, Empire, 45, December 2004: 32 (3/5 stars) see also: 38; 84 min.; Martin Murphy's only feature film direction
This film has been criticised in some forums for being obvious. It is true, this kind of thing has been done before and the cinema-savvy viewer is likely to experience their "moment" quite early. But that is not the point. Internally, structurally, Lost Things succeeds in its play with the moment of realisation. The trouble is that the story is too simple and presented too sparsely for the viewer to really get into the game. The desire of the director and writer to strip back the story, characters and scene to essentials goes too far. For instance, it is clear Emily is extremely angry, but there must be more to it than a cryptic line in her diary and the utterance that she's into "all that new age stuff." Since her motivation is a driving force for the plot, this becomes somewhat frustrating. More seriously, a game of this kind should have rules and these are never clearly explained. The ending is satisfying of itself, but is undermined by too many unanswered questions ... Tabula Rasa.
For those after a quick solution to things, preferably with a masked killer made to order due to some past wrong, there's going to be a great deal of disappointment. Lost Things doesn't follow a single timeline, doesn't explain who survives, and for sure gives only hints as to the motives of the antagonist. You are on your own when it comes to working out just what happened, Director Murphy has bigger fish to fry than taking time out of his schedule to explain everything to the smallest detail.
... Martin Murphy’s Lost Things attempts to disrupt the boundaries of the real entirely within the diegetic confines of the story. ... In terms of Todorov’s conception of the fantastic – the uncertainty experienced when faced with the ambiguity of an event which cannot be explained – both characters and viewers are left with a prolonged period of uncertainty, unable to distinguish whether or not the narrative events are an illusion. For Todorov, the fantastic is the feeling that lasts for the duration of this uncertainty, and in the case of Lost Things, the uncertainty is never fully removed. Normally this situation results in a decision, the characters must opt for an explanation of their supernatural situation, but Lost Things draws out the period of this uncertainty, and does not allow a clear decision to be reached.
Brown, Michelle 2007, research project for the the OzFilm Database.
Hoskin, Dave, 2004, 'Edgy & Experimental & Weird: A Conversation with Martin Murphy and Ian Iveson', Tabula Rasa.
Thomas, David 2007, Extraordinary Undercurrents: Australian Cinema and the Shadow of the Everyday, PhD thesis, Murdoch University: 140-141.
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