Walking on Water
4 out of 5 starsSHADOWS MUST SEE MUST-SEE
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good friends bad behaviour Combining real-life situations with heightened drama, this feels like a film version of the Australian TV series The Secret Life of Us ... and indeed it's written by the same guy and features one of the same actors (the acclaimed, and deservedly so, Colosimo). This is an ensemble drama about grief, centring on four people sharing a house in suburban Sydney. The film opens as Gavin (Bonney) dies of Aids, but the death is awkward and messy, and leaves the other three housemates stunned. Charlie (Colosimo) and Frank (Bishop) find their relationship strained to the breaking point, while Anna (Theodorakis) bottles everything up, slipping into an affair with Gavin's married brother (Dean). And then there's Gavin's mother (Farr)....

The film's genius is its refusal to wallow in the sad situation, even though that's all the characters do. The script continually undercuts their grief with unexpected situations that are exploding with very black humour, and the strained relationships are shockingly honest and raw. Everyone involved deserves praise here, from Ayres' sensitive, stylish direction and Monk's insightful, brave script to seriously good performances all around. Every cast member peels back layers to let us see inside them--brittle fragility, churning anger, aching confusion. Colosimo is amazingly complex as a man whose guilt and grief are completely intertwined, leading him to acts that may sabotage his relationships with both his boyfriend and his best pal Anna. Meanwhile, Dean, Theodorakis and Farr all bring out unexpected depth of meaning in the already intricate script. This is powerful, provocative and deeply involving filmmaking, especially if you've ever dealt with a difficult death (is there any other kind?). Of nine nominations the film won five Australian Film Institute awards (including best screenplay and three of the four acting categories), as well as the Teddy for best film at the 2002 Berlinale. Keep an eye out for it.

cert 15tbc themes, language, sex, drugs 18.Mar.03 llgff

dir Tony Ayres
scr Roger Monk
with Vince Colosimo, Maria Theodorakis, Nathaniel Dean, Judi Farr, Nicholas Bishop, Daniel Roberts, Anna Lise Phillips, David Bonney, Celeste Jones, Maureen Green, Mark Baker, Lachlan Chapman
release Australia 26.Sep.02; UK Apr.03 llgff
02/Australia 1h29

In grief. Frank and Charlie (Bishop and Colosimo) try to console each other after their friend dies...

LONDON L&G FILM FEST

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2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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