July 5, 2003

Guns, Crime and Love...Aussie-style


Aussie director Scott Roberts' new caper film The Hard Word had several intriguing elements for PCC, the burgeoning Down Under-phile:

1. Six Feet Under's (among other admirable projects) Rachel Griffiths. The woman is amazing, playing everythng from an American housewife (The Rookie) to a British prostitute (My Son the Fanatic).
2. Guy Pearce. It is rare that PCC is able to forgive an actor for such an abysmal starring role as Guy's in The Time Machine, but Mr. Pearce has been absolved. If you haven't seen him in Memento, please stop reading and slink off to your local video store (or Netflix rental queue) and procure Christopher Nolan's amazing film.
3. The promise of an intelligent (Australian!) crime film that (hopefully) would not dissolve into a long, drawn-out shoot 'em up fiasco with elaborate, yet strangely unoriginal, car chases.

That said, Roberts' film delivers admirably. The story centers around three Australian brothers- Dale "the smart one" (Pearce), Mal(com) "the good one" (Damien Richardson) and Shane "the fuck-up" (Joel Edgerton)- all of whom happen to be bank robbers. Griffiths plays Carol, Dale's allegedly two-timing wife. We follow the boys from prison through a series of heists, ending in a surprisingly satisfying climax. The film is conscious of the fact that it needs to rise above your basic stick 'em up bank robber flick, and it does so by not only adding depth to the main characters, down to the most minute detail of the brothers' individual prison duties, but also by adding another layer of suspense in the form of a corrupt lawyer and dirty cops who are trying to cheat the boys out of the money they've stolen. There's an element of Bonnie and Clyde here in the way the brothers elicit our sympathy even as they knock off banks, horse races and airplane hangers. We root for them, not because they're noble Robin Hood-protegees, but rather because, through Roberts' skilled direction, we see them as real people, with personality quirks and tangled love lives. And how can you not root for three Australian brothers who might be more like you than you think?

Posted by jordan at July 5, 2003 1:54 AM