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Australia 1988
Directed by
Pino Amenta
94 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1 stars

Boulevard Of Broken Dreams

The 1980s gave us pretty much the worst that the 20th century had to offer in the arts and fashion and Boulevard Of Broken Dreams is a jaw-dropping example of just how bad this could be.

The first feature film from television director, Pino Amenta, is a tacky soap opera with a seemingly serious pretension to artistic significance. The title alone, with its implication of a broken-hearted, self-pitying protagonist wandering lonely rain-swept streets pretty much tells you what to expect and with a remarkable lack of flair Amenta gives us exactly that with a sad-sack hero, a mega-successful ex-pat L.A-based screenwriter (is there such a beast?),Tom Garfield, who returns to his home town of Melbourne to try to patch up his failed marriage to Helen (Penelope Stewart) with whom he has a daughter. He duly trawls the said streets at night, including popping into a strip club and getting the bejesus beaten out of him so that he can lay in their gutters and earn our sympathy, as he does that of Suzy (Nicki Paull), a young thesp who takes him under her wing. That, however, is solely because it’s in the script. You are more likely to be wishing that you could give him a boot or two yourself.

The fact that Waters, never a good actor at any time, won an AFI Award for Best Actor might lead you to believe that there is some merit in his performance but frankly it’s bordering on the risible. He certainly takes his role seriously but his 'tortured soul' performance amounts to looking both disconnected and pained at once, something which one can't help but imagine is actually a response to the god-awful knitwear in which he is attired. Even when we find out his melancholy secret late in the film it still runs a poor second in the tragedy stakes to his wardrobe.

To some extent the film is a victim of 1980s styling but even so there is nothing here that can be salvaged. The script by Frank Howson is so mind-numbingly banal (Howson presumably failed to see the irony in the fact that Garfield is supposed to be a brilliant writer) that I can’t imagine any actor managing to come out of it looking good. The cast, with the possible exception of Kim Gyngell, who won the Best Supporting Actor award, are uniformly awkward but that is entirely consistent with everything else about this film, from the wardrobe and hair, which in Waters' case should have been enough to exclude him from any award consideration, to the era typical synthesized score by John Capek.

FYI: Amenta managed to get another two features, Heaven Tonight and What The Moon Saw, featuring many of the same production team, before disappearing back into television land where he has worked consistently ever since.

DVD Extras: Audio Commentary with writer/producer Frank Howson and film critic, Paul Harris; Frankly Speaking, a documentary with Frank Howson; two video clips with Marc Jordan songs from the film; Theatrical trailer.

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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