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Australia 1999
Directed by
Anthony Bowman
96 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1.5 stars

Paperback Hero

The Aussie larrikin/Ocker card is played for all it’s worth and then some in this direly predictable Antipodean rom-com. 

Larrikin Outback big-rig driver, Jack Willis (Hugh Jackman,) has written a pulp romance novel but doesn’t want to own up to it so uses the name of his long-time friend, Ruby Vale (Claudia Karvan), larrikin café owner and  local crop-dusting pilot (though there doesn’t appear to be any crops just a lot of dust). When he lands a book deal he convinces Ruby to be the beard for him in return for paying for her wedding to local vet, Hamish (Andrew S. Gilbert).  The two travel to Sydney (cue Sydney Harbour Bridge shots) where the inevitable occurs.

The film’s man problem is with writer-director Anthony Bowman’s dull script which dutifully works its way through the plot without a glimmer of zest or originality. Much the same applies to his directing.  Karvan, needless to say, is loved by the camera as is Jackman who never looked back on his way to the X-Men franchise. Neither however seem to be able to develop much conviction as they mug their way through the lifeless dialogue laying on the you-beaut like an excess of Vegemite on a stale Weetbix. 

As always, Andrew S. Gilbert makes for a likeable second banana but Angie Milliken is well off point as a glamorous press agent. As for the roster of Ocker slobs and Jeanie Drynan reprising her brow-beaten character from Muriel’s Wedding (1994) the less said the better.




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