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Australia 2012
Directed by
John Duigan
103 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1 stars

Careless Love

Synopsis: Linh (Nammi Le) is the daughter of Vietnamese boat refugees. She studies social anthropology at Sydney University, lives in a share house and works at night for an escort service as Mei in order to pay her way and send money home to her Dad who is under threat of losing the family home. One of her clients Luke (Peter O’Brien) is an American ex-mercenary, now antiquities dealer and Linh develops an ongoing relationship with him. But when she starts dating a fellow student Jack (Andrew Hazzard) she finds it progressively more difficult to keep apart the two sides of her life.

John Duigan has a solid C.V, that includes the Aussie classic The Year My Voice Broke (1987) so it is surprising that his latest film,Careless Love, is such a clunker.

Whilst he is to be commended for tackling the "immigrant" experience, subject matter which though very real is rarely seen in Australian movies which overwhelmingly stick to the Anglo-Celtic majority, his film is a heavy-handed affair that instead of allowing the narrative to reveal its lessons commits the cardinal sin of using Linh’s identity as an anthropology student to vent its themes of sex in a post-romantic age (in a revealing move Duigan, also the film’s writer, cast himself as Linh’s university lecturer).

Coming on the heels of a spate of Australian films all released in 2011 dealing with the subject of prostitution, from X, a semi-porno thriller to Sleeping Beauty, a portrait of a uni student working as an upmarket call-girl, and Black & White & Sex, Careless Love feels sorely in need of an injection of originality.  Unfortunately Duigan the writer is content to give us a dutiful narrative then as director film it in a similar way. Surprisingly for a film in which sex is the subject, there is very little actual sex, which, given the overall ungainliness of the film, is no doubt a good thing but it also contributes to its vacuity,

A good deal of this is due to the acting which with the exception of David Field playing his umpteenth iteration of an Aussie rough-nut and Andrew Hazzard who brings certain puppy-dog charm to proceedings as Linh's boy-friend is universally awful, most of the cast, including Le, seeming to have no experience. thsu making the production look at best sophomoric. Other than Field, Peter O’Brien is the only cast member with considerable experience, mainly on the small screen. but his American accent is woeful and his “acting” is largely confined to showing off his manly physique.  Not that Duigan has given him an easy job with his character who is a kind of mysterious adventurer-cum-artist with a partner (Susan Prior, also sporting an atrocious American accent) and child who takes an interest in Mei/Linh. It is role that constitutes a ridiculous interpellation into the main story that only adds to the film’s lack of verisimilitude and should have been left on the cutting room floor. In fact, a film-maker of Duigan'sn experience should have known better than to make this under-cooked film.




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