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Australia 1999
Directed by
Ken Cameron
96 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Secret Men's Business

This telemovie about a group of blokes in their early thirties opening some old wounds and making new ones suffers from the usual limitations of the format - a typology of characters played by photogenic actors behaving in over-familiar ways. There's too much time spent on the blokey camaraderie, involving wrestling, kicking a football and showering together before settling down to a card game, Jack Daniels and large cigars.

How much of this is meant to suggest subliminal homoerotic bonding (there are plenty of buttocks on display) and how much is meant to represent what Aussie blokes do (assuming that these are different) is not clear but either way it is quite wearing. Then a couple of hot babes turn up, everyone starts cavorting around and singing along to Sam Cooke's Stand By Me and it all starts to get embarrassing.

On the other hand, Cameron is a capable director (who works almost exclusively in television) and the script by Nicholas Hammond and Christopher Lee does make a decent stab at exposing the tensions and double standards that lie beneath male friendships. In concentrating on this the writers have chosen to allude to their character's back stories in as naturalistic a way as possible. This is commendable although I was never too sure how the Ian (Jeremy Callaghan) character fitted into the story. Ben Mendelsohn, an actor better suited to more off-beat fare, seems ill-fitting amongst this circle of tanned gym jockies but then perhaps a bit of imbalance saves the film from being stiflingly tidy.




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