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Australia 2003
Directed by
Khoa Do
80 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars

The Finished People

Although this no-budget movie shot on digital video, looking at the life of a trio of homeless youths and heroin addicts in Cabramatta in Sydney's West won great praise for its authenticity and sincerity, the negative aspects of its neither fish-nor-fowl approach tend to be its undoing. In this respect Stephen J. Szklarski's Union Square, released the same year, which adheres to the documentary mode is a much stronger film in bringing home the sense of tragedy which both film-makers wish to show.

Another point of comparison is Italian neo-realist film such as The Bicycle Thieves, which also used non-professional actors to bring home to audiences stories of real hardship. Neo-realism is a style, however, as is documentary, and Do's film gets caught in the trap, no doubt partly due to lack of funding, of appearing to be both a fictional construct and a document, but failing to convince as either. As the former it is amateurish with a script that is heavily improvised but often not particularly well, whilst as the latter it seems contrived, the reality being discernible but the affect being lost in the clumsy lurching from one mode to the other.




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