Sunday, September 7, 2008

"The Next Big Thing" aka Gracie Otto

The amount of times "the next big thing" has been bandied about by the Aussie (and international) press about an up-and-coming Aussie actress (occasionally it's a male, but next big things tend to be female) is almost endless. Yet for every Cate, Naomi and Nicole there's an Abbie or a Rachael that just doesn't quite click. Get ready to throw Gracie Otto onto the pile, although I for one hope she lands on the pile with the former examples.

Anyone who has seen Matthew Newton's new film Three Blind Mice - and you should, it's very very good - will be aware of Otto's charms. Charms that, at least at this very early stage, eclipse those of her much more famous sister Miranda, who is a good 20 years her senior and who's not exactly worthless in the acting department either. That her father is legend Barry Otto too probably helps. In Three Blind Mice she plays a smart and sassy waitress, which could have easily been cliched and simple, but Otto along with Newton's writing transforms her into a truly unique, desirable and all-round likable gal. You can believe the character played by Ewen Leslie would risk his career to run away with her. She truly shines. She is perhaps the standout in a film full of them.

If that weren't enough, she's also apparently quite a skilled filmmaker with several festival-screened shorts on her resume, none of which I have seen. And to top it all off, she's a bloody good editor too. Strange, right? I was quite surprised to discover she was the editor on Three Blind Mice. A job she handled with ease that turned out very well. I really hope that Otto shows up on AFI nominations morning with nods for her performance as well as her editing on the feature (about which I will write more on later).


Slayton said...

What about Emma Booth and Saskia Burmeister?

Glenn said...

Well if I mentioned every single young Aussie actress that has been called "the next big thing" then I'd be here for 13 uninterrupted hours.

Having said that I quite liked Booth in Clubland and I've been a fan of Burmeister for quite a while but has a different quality about her. She's a bit more intense and clearly dramatic (as evidenced by her poor turn at comedy in Hating Alison Ashley).

Paul Martin said...

I don't think it will surprise you, Glenn, to hear that I agree with you on virtually all accounts. I think Otto turned out one of the most charismatic (yet realistic) performances I've seen in an Australian film in a long time. The lineup of strong support actors is awesome. And it's the best Australian film I've seen in quite a while.

Did you notice in the credits that Christopher Weekes was involved as a consultant? Newton was in his Bitter & Twisted, which screened just before Three Blind Mice. It looked like Newton put this film together with his friends and family: he's married to Gracie, so Barry is his father-in-law.

There's a real freshness, vitality and unexpected surprises in this film, which Matt Ravier rightly likens to John Cassavetes.

Glenn said...

Are they married or merely dating? I don't remember hearing about them getting married or even engaged.

I think a lot of the affection I have for the performance is that - like Booth in Clubland - the performance not only felt natural, but it wasn't one of those anguished roles that so many young actresses get like Abbie Cornish in Somersault, Leeanna Walsman in One Perfect Day and Bitter & Twisted and so on. They're good actresses, but Otto felt like a breath of fresh air.

Paul Martin said...

I'm basing the "married" bit on what I read on Gracie Otto on IMDb.

You may be right that her performance was refreshingly non-anguished. I don't think it matters whether a performance is anguished or not, but if it's too laboured and non-naturalistic, it's hard to buy into. It'd be interesting to see how convincing she is in an anguished role. For now, I'm savouring what's she's dished out in Three Blind Mice.

Glenn said...

Indeed, it will be interesting to see how she digs into the sort of roles that Aussie cinema typically serves up, but she is just so darn likable in Three Blind Mice that I don't want her to play a heroin addict or abuse victim. Not yet, anyway. teehee.

Syms Covington said...

Crikey, they are definitely not married.

I'm very keen to hear how Mice does in Toronto.

Paul Martin said...

Goes to show, you can't believe everything that's on IMDb. And she's too young anyway, only 21.