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Australia 2006
Directed by
Murali K. Thalluri
91 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars


Australian director Murali K. Thalluri was only 20 when he completed this his first feature which he not only wrote and directed but co-edited and co-produced and saw it premiere as an official selection at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.  Credit where credit is due it must be acknowledged that 2;37 is an impressively well-made film, not just under the circumstances but in general.  Somewhat ironically however precisely because of its sophistication it feels more calculating than affecting.

Whereas typically Australian film-makers foreground the vernacular, Thalluri has carefully removed all reference to the context of his story.  Indeed if you turned the sound off you would readily think that you were watching an American film, one, as was noted by many reviewers, that has more than a passing resemblance to Gus Van Sant’s 2003 high school drama Elephant (2003).

Starting with a probable tragedy the film scrolls back to the beginning of the day and shows seven middle class teenagers, all of whom look far too old to be at high school and, all bar one, remarkably photogenic . The girls sport low-cut tops and ass-hugging jeans, the boys, bar that same one, are buffed and cool. Much of the film is given over to following this group as they conveniently cross paths in the school corridors where they seem to spend more time than the class room. Thalluri neatly uses cutaways from the main flashback action to black and white interview segments to develop his characters.  Gradually their stories, and existential problems aplenty, are revealed . Eating disorders, homophobia, teen pregnancy, unrequited desire and bullying of the male and female varieties are all there, with one particularly dark secret appearing late in the film as we move towards finding out whose blood was seeping out below the bathroom door.

Despite feeling at times too heavily-programmatic in its depiction of teen angst and stylistically too indebted to American teen films, Thalluri’s writing and directing are remarkably assured and his largely non-professional cast (Teresa Palmer, who does a fine job as Melody, is the only one with previous movie experience) are effective. 

Despite its good intentions, 2;37 lacks the emotional punch to appeal to a broad audience and will work best for a younger demographic who will be able to see themselves in the film. That is if they are not playing video games or watching American superhero movies.




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