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Australia 1991
Directed by
John Ruane
109 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Death In Brunswick

Belonging firmly to the school of 'quirky' Australian comedy (lest you have any doubts, John Clarke appears in blue singlet, shorts and thongs next to a Hills Hoist), John Ruane's debut feature tells of the misadventures of an ineffectual Nice Guy (Sam Neill), a short-order cook in a low-rent Brunswick nightclub who is dominated by his over-bearing mother.

What clearly is intended as an absurdist black comedy despite have some good ingredients isn't more than intermittently amusing and more often than not it simply drags. Despite a good stab at the central character the naturally smooth and self-possessed Neill is mis-cast as a chronic schmuck with a drinking problem whilst in another questionable casting choice, Zoe Carides as the romantic interest, appears to be a lot closer to thirty than the nineteen her character is supposed to be, which is not surprising as she was twenty-nine at the time.

Ruane who wrote the script with Boyd Oxlade based on the latter's novel does little with the material, or when he does, as in the cemetery scene, the result is regrettably juvenile. The film does however have some nostalgically attractive location photography of Melbourne's pre-gentrified inner-city suburb of Brunswick.

DVD Extras: Brand new 16:9 widescreen transfer; 2 audio commentaries, 1 with San Neill and John Clarke, the other with John Ruane and cinematographer, Ellery Ryan; a 48m cast and crew interview feature, Memories Of Murder; 2 episodes, one on Neill, the other on Clarke, of a New Zealand-made television series on the lives of its famous ex-patriots, featuring behind-the-scenes footage from Death In Brunswick; and completing this extensive package, 22 minutes of deleted scenes.

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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