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Australia 2005
Directed by
Scott Ryan
83 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1.5 stars

Magician, The (2005)

Low budget film-makers must always cut their suit according to their cloth finding an appealing concept that can be made with the limited money available. Writer/director Scott Ryan, who graduated from RMIT film school in 2003, came up with the vicariously titlllating idea of a digitally-shot cinema verité mockumentary about a low rent Melbourne hitman (whom he plays) going about his sordid business. Whilst some credit accrues to Ryan for getting his film made for only a few thousand dollars, the result, which owes much tongue-in-cheek crime films such as Man Bites Dog (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994), is far from inspiring.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Ray is a potty-mouthed thug well-pleased with himself and his choice of profession whilst his interlocutor, documentary-maker and camera-man Max (Massimiliano Andrighetto) tags along after him with a near-reverential eagerness as he shoots some unidentified person, kidnaps a drug dealer (Ben Walker), threatens an addict Benny (Kane Mason) to get out of town, and even does a stand-over job for Max, free of charge.

Originally entered in the St Kilda Short Film Festival, the film subsequently came to the attention of director Nash Edgerton who recommended extending it into a feature film and went on to be its co-producer and co-editor. One can see what appealed to Edgerton who like so many early career directors are fatally attracted to the hardcore crime genre (he directed the crime film The Square in 2008) but for a full-length feature there needed to be much more than Ryan’s Ocker charms and scabrous vulgarity to hold our attention, the rest of the actors, presumably Ryan’s non-actor mates (there are no women characters), adding nothing of note to proceedings all of which, in one way or another, you've seen before.




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