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Australia 2004
Directed by
Gregory Pakis
82 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

The Garth Method

Synopsis: In 2001 unemployed actor Garth Petridis (Garth Petridis) was imprisoned for one of the most unusual crimes in Australian history.Desperate for success he kidnapped members of the public and forced them to perform in a bizarre movie intended to make Garth a household name.He kept a video diary of the whole process.

The conceptual framework of this film is gently mind-bending as it is purportedly a self-funded feature by failed actor and first-time director, Garth Petridis, who we the audience understand is in fact failed actor and first-time director Gregory Pakis making a self-funded feature. For want of a budget to speak of, Pakis uses this multi-layered approach to give his material, which exists only in fragments, or in the case of his arrest and imprisonment, the supposed resolution of the film, not at all, the semblance of substance. Thus, initially digital video footage sets up a framework for Garth’s back story which is shot on Super 16mm, both colour and black and white and includes snippets of Garth’s own movie (or more properly non-movie), The Garth Method. Garth’s no-budget approach is thus cleverly used to circumvent the real film-maker’s low budget reality.

Cleverness does not of itself make for a satisfying cinematic experience but fortunately Pakis’s film, which he also wrote, is substantially funny. Of course one cannot help but remember Martin Scorsese’s brilliant The King Of Comedy, in which wannabe comedian Robert De Niro, aided by Sarah Bernhardt, kidnaps Jerry Lewis in an attempt to bring himself celebrity status (not a little because Garth’s looks are compared to Lewis’s by his friends). If not in that league, The Garth Method entertains with its sense of the absurd and its self-aware humour, both in taking a tongue-in-cheek journey through the sad and sorry days of the aspiring actor and as a underdog comedy, with the diffident Garth and the roster of birds-of-a-feather low-achievers that are his friends, family and colleagues all providing amusing moments.

Of course one acknowledges the constraints under which a production like this operates (it was filmed over the course of a year) but there are two shortcomings which are script issues and which could have been better handled. One is that the periodic interruption to the main narrative with Garth talking straight to a digicam breaks the momentum of the comedy and have no apparent yield. The second is that the film ends too abruptly, leaving the viewer with no emotional pay-off. But hey, who’s to say The Garth Method is finished. In many ways it is better to see it as a work in progress that deserves further development.




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