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Australia 1996
Directed by
David Caesar
90 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Idiot Box

I’m never quite sure how to respond to films such as Idiot Box, in which well-educated (read privileged) middle-class film-makers take as their subject matter the doings of shiftless louts, in order to be entertained by their crudeness.  Aside from the question of how entertaining such things are, it all seems somewhat patronizing,

Writer-director David Caesar’s film (the title is an Australian vernacular name for a television set) follows the activities of two best mates, Mick (Jeremy Sims) and Kev (Ben Mendelsohn), dole-bludging bogans who spend most of their time drinking beer and watching television, a combination which gives Kev the idea that they could rob a bank easily. They pick out a local branch (indeed, one opposite the dole office) but what they don’t know, is that an already seasoned robber (Andrew S. Gilbert) is about to rob the same bank.

Reservations about the content aside, Caesar’s film is well-scripted, smoothly bringing together its various narrative strands with both comedic flair (including lifting the famous “Royale” scene from Pulp Fiction which came out two years earlier) and an understated sense of empathy for its characters, in particular the  emotionally-troubled Kev and his more thoughtful mate, Mick, but even Gilbert’s trapped-by-circumstance bank robber and Susie Porter's fright of a girlfriend who Kev alternately f*cks and verbally abuses contribute to the tableau.  And as with his previous feature, Greenkeeping (1992) Caesar displays a flair for visual composition and the classic Australian suburban ethos of the 1970s and ‘80s.

For all that the film is, like its characters, often  loud and  crude, and that may not be everyone’s idea of good company.




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