Directed by Peter Faiman
Written by John Cornell, Ken Shadie and Paul Hogan based on a story by Paul Hogan.
I’m sure in some way I’ve seen this movie before. I mean, it was everywhere in the eighties and my mum and dad almost certainly got it out at the video shop or watched it on TV. It’s all sort of vaguely familiar when I watch it and maybe that’s scraps of seeing it before or all the bleed through this movie has had on other Australian films I’ve seen, the familiarity of the Australian landscape.
I don’t imagine this film is on the UK version of the top 500 list but… I’m using the Australian magazine one so I watch it 🙂
A New York reporter in Australia goes to the Northern Territories to track down a man who’s had his leg bit off by a giant crocodile. Once she arrives she finds that the town, the man and the people aren’t what she expected. It’s a fish out of water tale followed by a fish out water tale when Mick follows her to New York.
It’s a very eighties movie, the glitz and glam of the big city, big hair, shoulderpads, big ambition and discovering something new about the world and people. The obligatory watching the girl swim scene is thankfully cut short by a croc attack although the sound effects and music used for this incident is pretty over the top.
David Gulpilil in one of his early roles subverts all the assumptions the Western world and our POV character have about Aboriginals. He appears in the night, painted up and presented as a threat – Mick even holds a knife to him just in case. He’s revealed to actually be a city boy, just up in the bush to please his father. There’s a moment where he tells Sue she can’t take his picture and she softly says ‘oh, do you think it will steal your soul?’ and he says ‘nah the lens cap’s still on’. It’s an interesting moment revealing the assumptions made about those who are distinctly ‘other’ to us, but it’s uncomfortable – especially since Mick himself feeds into the faux-mysticism, saying that Nev can just ‘imagine his way’ through the dark forest because he’s a bit telepathic, undercut immediately by the sound of Nev walking into a tree.
I had a moment of being pulled right out of the film by logic though. Mick’s never been to a city, he doesn’t know what an escalator is and he’s never travelled out of Australia, so how did he have a passport to travel to America at the drop of a hat? Eh. It’s not a big deal at all but it yanked me out of the story.
Does it make me love the people?
There is a fair bit of time given to Mick’s dry humour and also the depth of thought he’s capable of. Plus it’s hard not to enjoy the easy flow of the story.
Sue is not a particularly deep character. She’s the love interest to two men and the connection between the Australian culture/Mick and the New York world/Richard. In the tradition of anime heroines everywhere, Mick moves through the life with an open mind to meeting new people and his approach usually improves the lives of the people he talks to – opens their eyes/gives them wonder, etc.
One exception is the scene where Mick is hit on by a lady. It’s pretty horrible trans-shaming at the point in the NY bar though. I want to say this is down to the times – showing the ‘weird’ people that Mick is suddenly exposed to, but it’s treated entirely as a joke. And besides that, I don’t imagine that what happened in that scene is any different to things that happen now in various bars and places.
Bechdel test: Rosita and Sue sort of communicate in the hotel room but it’s half unspoken and half spoken through Mick. Again the two prostitutes Simone and Karla both speak but it’s to Mick or about Mick… and I’m sure Sue speaks to her mother but it’s about Mick or Richard. So, unless I missed something, which is highly possible, then it’s a fail.
Mick: That’s incredible. Imagine, 7 million people wanting to live together. New York must be the friendliest place on Earth.
State of Mind: Pretty standard romantic comedy from the eighties, very much in the vein of Big. It’s very watchable, rather sweet and totally unchallenging except for that one bar scene.