Directed by Ray Lawrence
Written by Andrew Bovell based on his play
An Australian movie, which I imagine, isn’t in the British version of the top 500 list. I knew almost nothing about this film when I started it up. I was happy to see Joe, aka Anthony LaPaglia in the lead role and quickly discovered it’s an Australian film.
An Australian police film, in fact. I’ve only seen one of these before – the excellent Noise which I am now realising owes a lot to this film. It’s a slow burn, hyper realistic film about damaged people trying to find happiness. It’s sad and heart wrenching and in a lot of ways the crime isn’t the story of this film, it’s about the people and their interactions.
It hit me a bit in my feels – people talking about relationships breaking down and whether or not to try and make a marriage work is a bit of a sensitive topic for me now, heh. But that said it was moving all the same, you aren’t sure just how many bad things the characters have done, but somehow you always understand and forgive them.
There’s fraught phone calls, awkward situations and therapy sessions. It all feels very real, like we’re watching human truths and souls laid raw. This makes it hard to watch but also quite lovely because the connection to the characters from watching it was so easy. I actually really love Australian films because of this tendency to emotional truth, even though Australia seems to put out pretty bleak or depressing films.
The film’s colour palette is very cold, lots of blues and greys to reflect the mostly urban setting of Sydney and the subdued nature of the characters – who do outrageous things but mostly hide them. There’s a peculiar scene early on which led to a scene I really loved. Early on the lead character, Leon, accidentally smacks into another guy running around a corner, they both fall and there’s blood. He yells at the other guy who looks shocked and confused and then just starts crying – confounded, Leon just puts his arms around the other man, who leans on him and sobs.
Later in the movie, a few beers down the pub and Leon is recounting this weird experience to another man who seems totally befuddled.
What did you do? He asks
Leon: I held him. I just held him, but the whole time I was thinking ‘get it together you weak idiot’
Don’t you want to cry sometimes?
Leon: Yeah, but…you don’t, do you?
I dunno I guess I just love this little revelation, which is pretty rare in movies and especially Australian film that men are vulnerable and want to cry, and then the kick that you just don’t. You just don’t, do you? Such truth in this movie!
Does it make me love the people? These people are so raw, so human and so incredibly true…yes, I love these characters.
Bechdel test: There’s a scene early on with Dr Valerie having a session with Sonja, they are talking about her marriage but the whole conversation isn’t about Leon, a large part of it is about what Sonja is feeling and what she wants her marriage to be. It passes a few more times with other characters as well in other scenes, so yay for that!
This is not an affair this is just a one night stand that happened twice.
State of Mind: This movie is long. I liked it a lot though. It was bleak but hopeful and there weren’t any Hollywood style easy answers. The next day I liked it even more, like it needed some time to percolate and age.