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Australia 1999
Directed by
Alan White
80 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Erskinville Kings

Alan White’s directorial debut dealing with a couple of brothers (Hugh Jackman and Marty Denniss) reuniting over the death and burial of their father falls between the two horses being ridden. Set in the once working inner Sydney suburb of Erskinville it attempts to depict a slice-of-life of its contemporary denizens, a conglomerate of variously aged long-term slackers who share houses, work casual jobs, perhaps study, go the pub, smoke dope and so on. They are a generally inarticulate lot and the first third of the film, as Barky builds up to meeting his brother, is spent on dialogic exchanges such as “Yer wanna beer?” (pause) “Yeah, OK” that is supposed to pass as real life speech. Then the film engages with its real subject, the unresolved hostility between the brothers over their family’s disintegration, and we shift to staged exchanges that appear to have been adapted from an Arthur Miller play.

Neither White nor Denniss, who wrote this under the pseudonym Anik Chooney, manage to get the balance of naturalism and abstraction right. Given however that the film had a budget of a half a million dollars and was unsupported by any of the usual government funding bodies and that it was a debut effort for both director and writer, it is a commendable effort. John Swaffield’s photography of Sydney's inner city dilapidation is striking, albeit a bit too insistently artistic, whilst Don Miller-Robinson contributes an effective score.

DVD Extras: An audio commentary by whaite and Denniss, a deleted scene with Denniss and Joel Edgerton; audition montage featuring Hugh Jackman, Joel Edgerton, Marty Denniss, Andrew Wholley and Leah Vandenberg; Music video "So Wild"; cast and Crew biographies; photo gallery; theatrical trailer; 16x9 1:85:1 acpect ratio.

Available from: Madman




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