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Australia 2011
Directed by
Richard Wolstencroft
95 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
0.5 stars

Beautiful And Damned, The

One could be kind and say that Richard Wolstencroft’s debut feature film suffers from a grossly inadequate budget, which it does. More importantly, however, it suffers from an overwhelming lack of anything resembling talent. Clearly the style was intended as a deliberate snubbing of conventional film-making standards (Wolstencroft has been a long-time director of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival) but unless bad acting, bad writing, bad directing, bad sound, bad music ....let’s just say, bad everything, does it for you The Beautiful And Damned is going to be a complete waste of time.

Adapting an F. Scott Fitzgerald story, writer-director Wolstencroft re-situates it to a circle of the supposed gilded youth of Melbourne monied elite.  Shot on video with a storyline about a trust fund brat and future heir (Ross Ditcham) and his antics with his hot sometime-girlfriend/sometime-wife (Kristen Condon) as they wait to inherit Grandad’s squillions, there seems to be some expectation that we should see their goings-on as an exposé of real world decadence (in a rare piece of presumably tongue-in-cheek pretension the opening title refers to the film as “ A Richard Wolstencroft Ereignis”, the latter term being a Heidegerrean neologism for  “something coming into view”).  Don't get your hopes up, however, for Wolstencroft doesn't manage more than to depict witless wastrels snorting cocaine, having dissolute sex (I lost count of the number of furious humping scenes) and associating with low lives.  For all its adherence to guerrilla-film anti-aesthetic techniques, none of this coheres into something positive in its own right and the film is, other than being badly-made, conceptually dull. Had Wolstencroft called his film “The Stupid and Who Cares?” he would have been closer to the mark.

The film ends with a now consistently pretentious dedication to Bret Easton Ellis and J.G. Ballard and a promise that we have just witnessed Part 1 of the “March On Rome” trilogy. Something tells me that it’s going to be a very long walk to disappointment.




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