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Australia 2011
Directed by
Michael Henry
89 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Andrew Lee
3.5 stars


Synopsis: A bunch of school friends attempt to murder their dead friend's piano teacher, Bernard (Damien de Montemas). He had an affair with her when she was sixteen, and now, three years later she’s taken her own life and revenge is on the cards. But what starts out looking fairly straightforward plan to fake a suicide becomes more and more complex as the truth of the situation is teased out and the poor bastard just won't die…

Last year, two Australian revenge thrillers premiered at MIFF. The first was Red Hill, a slick, visually flashy package let down by some weak editing. The second was Blame, vastly superior but far less showy and without the same level of star power, it didn’t get as much attention. It's workmanlike approach is probably going to count against it in the eyes of some and that’s sad, as it's a really clever little film.

It opens strongly with an unexplained assault on Bernard by masked intruders. Once things go awry the twists and turns and recriminations fly fast as we discover the reason for the assault. Revenge, hastily planned at their dead friend’s funeral, is being enacted and botched. And as the film progresses, we discover that it's not just the plan that's questionable. Friends turn on each other, alliances are formed and broken, and central to it all are Cate (Kestie Morassi) and Natalie (Sophie Lowe). They’re the ones pushing their boyfriends and friends to enact their revenge, with Cate especially driven to avenge her sister’s death. But as she spends more time with Bernard, the stories she’s heard and the events she believed had happened start to unravel and a revenge of an entirely different sort slowly comes to light. The friends are still the instruments of revenge, but one far less “noble” than the one they believed in.

Blame is an intelligent revenge thriller that smartly turns the tables on the avengers and prods and pokes at the machismo that feeds on a sense of righteousness. The end is beautifully handled, with the blokes pushed to execute the will of the girls who have manipulated them so effectively. The hero complex driving some of these guys is expertly skewered without being overdone and the sense of frustration you feel at how everyone gets played is a mark of how effective the acting and storytelling is. It doesn’t quite have that oomph factor that’d make it a top drawer film, and the real villain is easy to pick from the get-go, but the tension is in whether the other characters will work this out, and finding that out proves to be a lot of fun.




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