Down Under – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

August 11, 2016 by Roz Tarszisz
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Examples of irony and idiocy litter this Australian black comedy from director and writer Abe Forsyth as he shows that bouts of bad behaviour can be interspersed with surprising moments of clarity and truth.

Footage of the Cronulla beach riots in Sydney,December 2006 between locals of Cronulla –  aka The Shire – and outsiders – “wogs” from Sydney’s western suburbs  – set the opening scenes and background. The battles mocked the notion that modern Australia is not a racist country.

The story begins in the riot’s aftermath as two carloads of hotheads from both sides get revved up, destined to eventually collide in a fury of testosterone.

Born and bred in the western Sydney suburb of Lakemba, Hassim (Lincoln Younes) is only interested in studying for his exams.  He reluctantly joins his estranged school friend Nick (Rahel Romahn) on a retaliation mission.   Ibrahim (Michael Denkha) and D-Mac (Fayssal Bazzi) make up their crew.

Shit Stick (Shane) (Alexander England), a gentle sort and fourth generation Cronulla local is also reluctant to join the fray and change his plans for a Lord of the Rings marathon with his Down Syndrome cousin, Evan (Christopher Bunt).

Ringleader Jason (Damon Herriman) wants Shit Stick’s car to patrol the Shire against returning outsiders and making up this pack is Ditch (Justin Rosniak), whose face is completely covered by a bandage.  When Jason wishes a wall could be built around the Shire to keep everyone else out, Shit Stick does a gentle riff on the difficulties in building it. It’s a moment of calm before the approaching storm.

The outsiders’ trials include Vic (David Field), a debauched methamphetamine dealer and the botched hold-up of a petrol station when Nick loses his cool – if he ever had it.

Shit Stick’s bully of a father Graham (Marshal Napier) gives him an antique rifle – with just one bullet and thus armed the boys get bailed up by local hoons who prove easier to deal with than Jason’s heavily pregnant, foulmouthed girlfriend Stacey (Harriet Dyer). She puts them all at risk with her demands for food.

Performances are excellent. It deserves to become an Aussie classic with its unrefined mantle of comedy tackling an ugly subject.

3.5/5  Rated MA15+  2016  Released August 11

Starring Lincoln Younes, Damon Herriman, Rahel Romahn, Michael Denkha, Harriet Dyer, Alexander England, David Field, Chris Bunton

Directed and written by Abe Forsythe



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