Joe Cinque’s Consolation – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

October 10, 2016 by Roz Tarszisz
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When Anu Singh was charged with the murder of her boyfriend Joe Cinque in 1997, it was a crime that shocked Australia.

Australian author Helen Garner followed the case closely and her best-selling account of the events surrounding Cinque’s death – Joe Cinque’s Consolation: A True Story of Death, Grief and the Law was published in 2004. This film is based on her book.

As an examination of a relationship it makes uncomfortable, if compelling, viewing.

When Anu (Maggie Naouri) meets Joe (Jerome Myer) in 1994 he is smitten with the beautiful girl.  By 1997 they are living together in Canberra where Joe works as an engineer and she is struggling with her law degree studies.  She claims to have a mysterious illness and talks to friends about committing suicide. Joe loves her and just wants to “make her better”.

As her grip on reality weakens, Anu irrationally blames her illness on Joe and vows revenge against him.  She enlists the aid of Madhavi  Rao (Sacha Joseph), who appears to be in thrall to her, to stage a farewell dinner party where she plans to drug Joe to deep sleep and then kill herself.  Her intention is for him to suffer when she is dead. That effort is aborted.

On a visit to Joe’s parents Maria (Gia Carides) and Nino (Tony Nikolakopoulos) Anu becomes inexplicably incensed by their love for their son. She asks Madhavi to organise another farewell dinner and Madhavi tells guests that Anu and Joe will commit suicide together.  Joe knows nothing of these plans.

Anu drugs Joe with Rohypnol and keeps him drugged for over 24hrs before injecting him with a lethal dose of heroin. By the time she calls an ambulance, it is too late for him.

There are question of collective responsibility which are not easily answered. Who could have envisaged that Anu’s self-centered obsessions would have led to such an outcome?  Might tragedy have been averted if someone had heeded her desperate, last minute telephone call?   Audiences can only guess and make their own judgement.

Naouri is magnetic as the troubled Anu while Myer is convincing as the decent man who loves her.

Although it is an imagined re-enactment, in real life a man died for loving the wrong woman.

3/5 102 mins Rated M 2016 Released October 13

Starring Maggie Naouri, Jerome Meyer, Gia Carides, Sacha Joseph, Tony Nikolakopoulos, Josh McConville, Jacobs Collins-Levy

Directed by Sotiris Dounoukos

Based Joe Cinque’s Consolation: A True Story of Death, Grief and the Law by Helen Garner

Screenplay by Matt Rubenstein and Sotiris Dounoukos

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