No, that title isn't just a punny spin on the title of All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane, it's also sadly true. There was a time when this sort of movie would have had a successful run in Aussie cinemas like similar titles Love and Other Catastrophes. It would have found a receptive audience of twenty-somethings dealing with the same issues as the characters in the film. Such as is the state of Aussie film distribution, however, that this rather lovely flick languished with a next-to-nothing release (and only in Brisbane if I'm not mistaken) and will have to suffice with word-of-mouth to propel it to decent DVD rentals. Right now as I type this my sister-in-law is watching it on my recommendation. I can only hope others do the same.
All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane is a romantic comedy, revolving around Anthea (Charlotte Gregg) and Michael (Matt Zeremes), best friends for years and years despite the sexual tension. As these two grow bored of their newfound yuppiedome, Anthea wishes to join all her friends who are "leaving Brisbane" for Sydney or London, but is Michael holding her back and she just doesn't know it? You already know where this is going don't you? That's probably besides the point. And as they say, it's not where you go, it's how you get there. And, thankfully, writer/director Louise Alston - adapting the work from a stage play of the same name - gets there in at least an above-average amount of style.
For a film that was made for a meager $42,000, All My Friends is gorgeous to look at. Any exterior sequences just pops on the screen, with the title town represented beautifully. There is a sequence towards the end set on a riverside park that is filled with stunning greens and golds and the film surprises with it's robust appearance, rare for an Australian film - our filmmakers tend to err on the side of winter hues, no? A nice soundtrack too fills the speakers with The Go-Betweens' classic "Streets of Your Town" provides a wonderful recurring tune to put a spark into proceedings.
The acting is, mostly, very nice too. Matt Zeremes continues to impress this audience member and is the best thing - yet again - about the film. It helps that he's a bit of a spunk too, don't you reckon? Charlotte Gregg is a likable screen presence too who also happens to have a striking resemblance to one Toni Collette in a few scenes. The supporting cast is filled with plenty of talent including Cindy Nelson, Romany Lee and Ryan Johnson. Alston's writing and direction are generally quite lively with only brief lapses in judgement. That scene in the riverside park is such a wonderfully written moment that I wished the whole movie was that sharp and well-played.
Having said that, the film does occasionally lapse into irksome quirky territory, particularly in the characters played by Sarah Kennedy and Gyton Grantley who feel like mere caricatures compared to the well-developed leads. Some of the dialogue too, while having a great unforced sense of the local tongue, on occasions feels amateurish and unpolished, something that effects far too many Australian films, especially when they have casts that aren't experienced enough to give line readings that don't call attention to it.
Nevertheless, there is far more worth recommending about this little gem than there is against it. Alston has apparently made it her mission to make a trilogy of romantic comedies, which is more than anybody has done for the genre in this country in a long time and I look forward to her next project Friday Night Drinks, another stage adaptation. There's big promise in All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane that I hope she can capitalise on. B