Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

The Combination

Australia 2009
Directed by
David Field
96 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

The Combination

Synopsis: John Morkos (George Basha), just released from prison returns to his family in Sydney's West. He is determined to get his life together but finds that his younger brother Charlie (Firass Dirani) is repeating the pattern of behaviour that ended up putting him, John, in jail. With their father dead, John takes a hardline with Charlie with no success whilst along the way he begins seeing a young Anglo-Australian woman (Clare Bowen).

Like Clint Eastwood’s recently released Gran Torino, The Combination deals with the down-side of multi-culturalism, the ethnic ghettos that form in the poorer, former working class suburbs of Western cities and specifically the aggregation of youth gangs living out a pseudo-rap “kultcha” fantasy complete with pimped-up cars, drugs, guns and “nigga” jive talk. Whilst The Combination does not have quite the skill-set evident in Eastwood’s film, it is well-constructed and engaging, dynamic in execution and authentic in feeling.

In his directorial debut, David Field, who has a long CV as a character actor playing petty criminals, effectively weds the Aussie crime genre style, populated by low-rent backstreet villainss and small-time thuggery with a “social issue” realist approach that uses real locations and non-professional actors. Although there is nothing particularly original in the screenplay or Field’s directing, clearly the script by George Basha, who also plays John, is based on the writer’s own experiences and with he and Field as co-producers, it is a project that is close to their hearts. Whilst there are many factors that work in this film it is probably this spirit of commitment to the story more than anything else that makes it work. (The film was seven years in development. As is so often the case, the passion required to get an independent production like this up and running is precisely the winning quality that compliantly-compromised Government funded projects lack).

The Combination is a little clunky in places and despite the effective editing by veteran Ken Sallows, there are moments I would have left on the cutting-room floor. Probably the least successful part of the film (and, needless to say, also the most difficult) to get the romance between wog-boy John and white-bread Sydney. This pointedly emblematic relationship comes across as a dutiful illustration of the cross-cultural conflicts which the film address more than any palpable dynamic between the actors.

Given the small budget and that this is in many respects a first-time project The Combination is a surprisingly (given that its advertising campaign does not do it justice) rewarding film that makes a worthwhile contribution to the cinematic portrayal of contemporary Australia.




Want more about this film?

search youtube  search wikipedia  

Want something different?

random vintage best worst