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Australia 2003
Directed by
Jeff Balsmeyer
100 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Ruth Williams
2 stars

Danny Deckchair

Synopsis: Danny (Rhys Ifans) is a loser. You only have to watch him at work and play to discover this. However, he is loveable, at least to his workmates, and he was once loveable to his career-oriented real estate agent girlfriend, Trudy (Justine Clarke). They are making plans for their annual camping holiday when Danny overhears what Trudy really thinks of him. He decides to leave town ending up in a country town where he learns more about life and love in a few days than he has in his whole life.

We’ve done it again, another Australian romantic comedy that follows the rules so faithfully, that the audience is left with nothing new. How many times do we need to tell this story of the geeky guy/gal who eventually discovers their self-worth and finally works out what is important in life? Danny’s transformation from frog to prince brings to mind the character played by Tara Morice in that fine example of the style, Strictly Ballroom. She gave such a subtle performance, it was totally acceptable and believable that she could change the way she did. Rhys Ifans character is so annoyingly daggy, the transformation seems like a fantasy. I’m not saying that we expect ‘reality’ up there on the screen, it’s more that the audience needs to be able to relate to the main character and daggy Danny just didn’t do it for me.

To base a story on a funny thing that people do, i.e. attach helium balloons to chairs just to see where the wind might take them, is not enough to carry a film in my books. In fact it would have been a more enjoyable film without the deckchair. If Danny had left town via land, air or sea, he would still have arrived in the most interesting part of the film, the relationship between Danny and Glenda (Miranda Otto). Miranda doesn’t deserve to show up in a film that, funnily enough, takes itself so seriously. She’s funny, sexy, tough and fragile all rolled into the town’s only parking officer. In short, she outclasses and outshines most of what is going on around her.  Rhys Ifans may be the "star" but Rhys Muldoon is looking good in his film debut as the hunky sports reporter.

The sentiment of this film is obviously heartfelt and it encourages us to look outside our usual frame of reference. Unfortunately there just isn’t enough tenderness to save it from a quick trip to its resting place on the shelves in the video store.




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