Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Boxing Doctor

I think it's fairly well-established fact that Australia has made a lot of poor movies lately. One of the absolute worst for me was Kriv Stenders' The Illustrated Family Doctor from 2005, which starred Sam Johnson as someone who does some stuff that I can't really remember. I loathe that movie. So repulsive and ugly and just awful.

I always find it funny though when certain directors can go from making absolute trash like Doctor to something like Stenders' next film, the absolutely tiny domestic drama Boxing Day. With the appearance on being filmed in only one take, Boxing Day revolves around a man who has recently been released from prison having Christmas dinner (on Boxing Day, you see) with his family, but an old friend has returned and, in ways I sure didn't expect, changes everything.

It's a remarkably done little movie that like others such as The Jammed and The Horseman deserves to be seen. I'm not sure what it is about a movie such as Boxing Day that is more palatable than other quite stark Aussies dramas (Em4Jay is jumping around in my mind in that regard), but it is. The performances are top notch, Richard Green is great, as are Tammy Anderson and Misty Sparrow in debut performances. I also thought Catriona Hadden was nice as a social worker in the latter part of the movie. Particularly in light of the fact that the film works as an indictment of sorts against the system she inhabits.

Stenders' does a great job at playing the entire movie on the edge of a tension-cutting knife, and I think Green's performance helps in that as well. The camerawork is also quite nice and doesn't resort to dark ugliness that a story such as this could have easily brought. I'm not sure the later passages of the movie work quite as well as the early ones, especially in regards to Anderson's sister character and the resolution doesn't feel like much of a resolution at all, but perhaps that is exactly the point. B


Syms Covington said...

I'm not as convinced Boxing Day is the great Australian drama that many of my peers believe it to be. I went into it loaded with expectation but was ultimately let down by it.

One of my biggest problems with Boxing Day is that Richard Green spends the first hour or so expressing his inner turmoil through unbelievable outward gestures, grumbles and grimaces, which all brought me out of the film as I couldn't believe in his performance. It was like watching Green's idea of a performance than an actual one.

Glenn said...

I agree that at first I was a bit taken aback by Green's performance, but I grew into it. I don't think it's the great movie many claim, but I think it went a long way to being great, which is more than I could say about a lot other Australian films.