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Australia 1989
Directed by
Nadia Tass
99 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Big Steal, The (1989)

Shot in Melbourne with plenty of local colour, The Big Steal is a likeably lightweight romantic/teen/suburban comedy with solid performances from a young Ben Mendelsohn and an even younger Claudia Karvan as Danny and Joanna. The object of Danny's desire, Joanna is gorgeous and to improve his chances of a date with her the dorky Danny tells her that he drives a Jaguar. Suitable impressed, Joanna agrees to go out with him which leaves Danny to make good his boast. He buys a second-hand Jag from Gordon "It's A Steal" Farkas (Steve Bisley) but of course it is a dud and hi-jinx ensue as Danny tries to exact his revenge on Farkas.

This low budget ($2.3m.) Australian film from husband and wife team Nadia Tass and David Parker picked up 3 AFI Awards including Best Original Music Score for Phil Judd, one for David Parker (who doubled as DOP) for the script and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for Bisley who is wonderful as the sleazy used-car dealer. 

The style of humour which trades heavily on Aussie suburban stereotypes and larrikin culture dates the film but, that AFI aside, it is really Parker's contrived script which wears thin (both Muriel's Wedding, 1995, and The Castle, 1997 handled similar material with more panache). Anyone with a taste for 1980s Australia however will find some appeal here.




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