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Australia 1991
Directed by
Frank Howson
96 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


Writer/director/producer Frank Howson who was writer of the truly awful Boulevard Of Broken Dreams (1988) has quite an eye for the entertainment dollar and with this film, set in Melbourne but with a strongly American look and feel, delivers a stylish genre film that shows more than a little influence of movies like de Palma's Scarface (1983) and Coppola's The Godfather (1972) albeit nicely mediated into something of his own.

American actor John Savage was imported to play ruthless alpha male businessman Michael Bergman who sets his cap at Kerry Armstrong's Michelle, a stockbroker's secretary with an unemployed sit-at-home husband (Jeffrey Thomas).

With a sizeable budget by Australian standards of $5m Howson gives what is essentially the story of Michelle's descent into moral Purgatory a delightfully baroque treatment complete with dream sequences and is ably assisted by the highly stylized production design of Jan Dowding and stylish wardrobe by Aphrodite Kondos. The result is a film that strikingly departs from the characteristic naturalism of "quality" Australian cinema yet does not fall victim to the exigencies of purely commerical film-making considerations.

Armstrong who starts the film in a disconcerting Kylie Minogue-like mode gets stronger as the film proceeds whilst both Savage and Thomas are effective in their respective roles. Howson, a pop songwriter of some reputation who was responsible for the success of 80s pop-synth band Psuedo Echo, contributes several songs for the film which are sung by Guy Pearce, another Howson discovery, and here cast as a silent henchman.




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