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Australia 1978
Directed by
Albie Thoms
80 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Palm Beach (1978)

Albie Thoms was a leading light of the Australian version of the 1960s/'70s counter-culture which had a strong independent and experimental film-making presence.

Telling the stories of two different groups of characters living in the Sydney northern beach suburb that gives the film its name Palm Beach is far from being cinema verité but it does achieve a good deal of authenticity due to the use of non-professional actors, improvised dialogue and long takes as it works its way through the imploded post-hippie beach culture, destroyed by drugs, hangers-on and untenable assumptions about human nature.

Thoms weaves together the film's separate story-lines by using the device of having the various characters all listening to the same commercial radio station eventually bringing them physically together at a party. Although the meandering anti-aesthetic does test one’s patience, the screenplay is well articulated and whilst the social context that is vital to its resonance is long gone the film still serves as a valuable document of the times.

FYI: The film’s Assistant Director was Jan Chapman who would go on to a successful career as a TV and film producer in Australia. 




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