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Australia 1994
Directed by
Stephan Elliott
90 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


Stephan Elliott's first film, which he also wrote, is an engaging comedy that unfortunately tends to trade black humour  for slapstick in its later stages but nevertheless impresses for an originality and inventiveness that owes nothing to the usual themes and characters of Australian films.

Clearly with his eye on an international market, Elliot not only has American-born actress Josephine Byrnes play the wife to Hugo Weaving's husband but casts UK pop maestro Phil Collins as Rolland Copping, an insurance investigator with a serious personality disorder. When Jonathan Wheat (Weaving) tries to de-fraud his insurance company, the unhinged Copping enters the scene and the forces of destiny spin out of control.

The result is gorgeously offbeat and reaches its apogee in the kooky inverstigator's fun-park-like retreat from the world, a marvelous effort of production design by Brian Thompson. Elliot makes excellent use of fish-eye lenses, extreme close up and unusual camera angles to enhance the suggestion of a world gone awry whilst Guy Gross's music adds to the fun.

As is so often the case with films that take us on a convoluted journey however the too quick resolution comes at the price of consistency, with Jonathan far too easily escaping from Copping's essentially mentally-disturbed web and the pair's twisted game ending on a rather vacant note. With an excellent creative team and strong performances from all the cast, including Collins, had Elliot taken his film a little further into the heart of darkness it might have become a cult classic.




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