Director: Sarah Watt
Studio: South Australia Film Corp./Kino K502
Video: 1.85:1 Letterboxed, Enhanced for 16:9, color
Audio: PCM stereo, English
Extras: Interview with Sarah Watt; Interview with lead actress Justine Clarke; Stills gallery
Length: 100 minutes
This worthwhile Aussie film was an official selection at several film festivals, got a couple thumbs up from Ebert & Roeper, and is the feature debut of a film animator, so it was high on my list. It’s a live action dramatic film but makes use of quick little animated clips which show what is racing thru the minds of the chief characters at various stressful times.
Meryl is a lonely artist who sees, as the film’s subtitle proclaims, that “Disaster Is Everywhere.” The mordant humor of her imagination – seeing herself run over by cars and trains, attacked by sharks, etc. – provides the main humor in the film, but I wouldn’t put it in the Comedy/Drama genre as did the producers. She meets a photojournalist who just learned he has cancer, but is unwilling to tell her. They are the main elements of a series of Altman-like vignettes on various characters living in close proximity in a rather industrial neighborhood of an Australian city. One segment involves a guilt-ridden freight train engineer who was at the controls when his train ran over a man chasing his dog on the tracks. Another is a coworker of the photographer who learns that a recent former girlfriend is now pregnant. I was going to say the following, but damn – Roger Ebert said it first: “weaves together thoughts of death as Crash wove together thoughts of racism.” A quick photo-collage at the conclusion shows that most of the characters survive and in fact thrive, so I could say the drama has a happy ending without spoiling anything.
Acting by all concerned is superb. The lead actress reports that the director at first thought her too young and beautiful but succeeded in uglying her up enough to fit the character perfectly. The use of the animation clips is very inventive. The transfer is excellent, and the stereo PCM audio provides a convincing surround effect when using Neo-DTS or Pro Logic II. (My cats became interested in the birds on the surrounds…) This is a fine first film.
– John Sunier