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aka - David Williamson's The Club
Australia 1980
Directed by
Bruce Beresford
96 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

The Club

Scripted by David Williamson from his successful play of the same name and well-translated to the screen by Bruce Beresford, this story of murky politics in a footy club languishing at the bottom of the competition ladder will undoubtedly resonate for fans of Australian Rules (VFL, as it was in those days), as it deals with the beginning of the game’s transformation from a parochial recreational sport into the corporatised national business juggernaut that it is today. Even non-aficiandos of the sport, however, will appreciate it for its strong performances and good writing as it skilfully portrays the internal politicking and the egotism that seems inevitably to arise whenever money and status are at stake.

Set in the days when a footy club actually was exactly that for players and spectators alike, grounded in a real place and a real community, it deftly combines real match footage from the time with its fictional story, the stoushes in the boardroom being mirrored in the on-field play as the old school management team are set upon by a new squad of hungry go-getters, heads roll and the weak are cast aside.

With an all-star cast of the time including Graham Kennedy as the naïve president who gets shafted by the wily Frank Wilson, Jack Thompson as the passionately committed coach, Harold Hopkins as a long-serving player and a young and slim John Howard as new recruit from Tasmania, backed up by some actual Collingwood players of the time, The Club is a thoroughly entertaining comedy drama and a worthy memento to a uniquely Australian phenomenon.




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