Running Time: 94 minutes
Release Date: 22 April 2010
This Australian production is Director Andrew Lancaster’s debut feature film. The story is set in 1980’s surburban Connecticut, yes set in USA, revolving around the misadventures of 15 year old Billy Conway (Harrison Gilbertson) and his dysfunctional family. Or more like dysfunctional greater neighbourhood with a myriad of colourful character protrayals. Billy is plagued with a series of unfortunate mishaps after initially witnessing his neighbour’s untimely demise 8 years earlier. These events culminatie in the breakdown of the family unit as each member finds their own way of dealing with their grief.
Geena Davis as Gloria, Billy’s mother puts in a convincing performance striking the balance of keeping it all together whilst falling apart at the same time. Its nice to see Davis back on screen in a lead role after almost a decade. Adelaide’s own Harrison Gilbertson shines as Billy and no doubt we will see more of him to come now that he has hit the USA radar. And his is well supported by his partner in crime Doug Post (Sebastian Gregory). Erik Thomson (Packed to the Rafters) has a small role as Gloria’s potential love interest Bob, however as such a recognizable aussie he tends to stick out in this film which is trying hard to be American rather than Australian.
Written by Brian Carbee, initially as a novel and then a screenplay, it was actually based on Carbee’s own childhood. Lancaster makes a good directorial debut however it comes off as a poor man’s attempt at American Beauty with its stylised shots particularly in the opening sequence with the sprinkler. The problem with the stylistic framing is that it often sticks out jarringly rather than be seamlessly integrated with the rest of the film. It also becomes obvious on how the plot is going pan out and despite the dark tones the humour keeps it relatively lightweight.
Worth seeing to see Geena Davis illuminate the screen again with upcoming Australian talent