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Australia 1993
Directed by
Bob Ellis
120 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars

The Nostradamus Kid

Bob Ellis is well-known as an outstanding wordsmith, caustic wit, and social commentator but he has no ear for dialogue and a not discernably greater aptitude for film directing. Written (and narrated) by Ellis, The Nostradamus Kid is essentially a vanity project, a long-winded and self-indulgent account of Bob's salad days at Sydney Uuni extending into a rather hurried overview of his transition to middle-aged disaffection.

The principal draw-card is everybody's favourite boy possum, Noah Taylor, in the role of Ellis's alter ego, Ken Elkin (somewhat incongruously given the real life disparity in physical demenours; that's Ellis walking down the stairs whilst Ken is shagging some girl in the hallway). Taylor wades through Ellis's wordy script, tossing off Shavian bon mots with an unlikely insouciance completely straight-faced in what is somewhat of a miracle of endurance. Other cast members including Miranda Otto, are equally diligent although with less inherent visual appeal (keep an eye out for a barely-recognizable Claudia Karvan who plays a beatnik during Elkin's Keroucian poetry-skatting scene).

What, you might say, ever happened to Jack Campbell who plays McAlister, Elkin's room-mate? Surely he could have been a blonde Mel Gibson but to my knowledge this was his only film. Mention should also be made of the excellent production design by Roger Ford and cinematography by Geoff Burton who together effectively realise the visual aspect of Ellis's trip back to 1950/60s Sydney.




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