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Australia 1991
Directed by
Aleksi Vellis
75 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Nirvana Street Murder

Written and edited by director Aleksi Vellis, Nirvana Street Murder is an energetically offbeat comedy of sorts that for the most part works, although at times, particularly in its later stages the abrupt shifts in genre styles jeopardize the film’s overall rambunctious sense of humour.

Brothers, Boady (Mark Little), a good-nature but chronically shiftless bozo prone to violent outbursts of temper, is dependent upon his pregnant girlfriend, Penny (Tamara Saulwick), and younger brother, Luke (Ben Mendelsohn). The latter, who is trying to break free of his brother’s destructive pull, has his own problems in the fact that his own girlfriend, Helen (Mary Coustas), comes from a strict Greek family who expect her to marry a nice Greek boy.

Drawing on the conventions of much-loved '70s television crime series such as Homicide, Vellis has a lot of fun with both the petty criminal and the (somewhat dated) cross-cultural elements, demonstrating not only directorial inventiveness but impressive visual style (the scenes with the stoned Greek kidnappers and their Aussie hostages are particularly good in this respect). Here the cast are also important with Little giving a high energy performance that teeters disturbingly on the brink of sociopathic but that somehow manages to resolve itself in laughter whilst Ben Mendelsohn is in his element as the staunchly responsible younger brother who can never quite bring himself to go straight. The ending is arguably both too dark in tone and in being delivered too hastily or sketchily, an opportunity missed, but this is still an unusually entertaining film that will appeal to fans of black comedy.




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