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1 item from 2006


Suburban Mayhem

25 May 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Talk about a bad seed. Katrina Skinner, the antiheroine of the Australian film Suburban Mayhem, is about as bad as you can get. Only in the movie's final moments do you learn that her grandmother was "mad" and her mother, who abandoned her and her dad, even "madder." That's all the explanation you get from director Paul Goldman and writer Alice Bell as to why this 19-year-old screws over everyone she meets and plots to kill her own father.

Most audiences will probably want to give Mayhem as wide a berth as Katrina's neighbors give her. If you're going to spend 89 minutes with a wild animal, something about that character should engage or intrigue you. Nothing here does.

The story is told in flashback from the father's funeral with family, friends, police and lovers chipping in with their versions of events. This hellcat (played with sexy sass by New Zealand actress Emily Barclay) badly misses her brother (Laurence Breuls), who has been imprisoned for life for murder. Missing him to the point one suspects an unhealthy closeness.

Bored with living at home with dad (Robert Morgan) and about to be cut off from his financial support if she doesn't find a job -- like she would ever do such a drastic thing! -- Kat dumps her toddler daughter with her current boyfriend of convenience (Michael Dorman) to go on a four-day bender. In this state of mind, she realizes her only solution is to sell the family house, which she won't own unless her father were to die suddenly. All she needs to do is to convince one of her boyfriends to help her out.

The story is related in a jocular manner as if Kat's bad behavior were somehow funny. Barclay gives the teen plenty of energy and wicked humor, but her character remains maddeningly one-note. The filmmakers possibly mean Katrina to be emblematic for all sorts of negative currents running through Australian and Western societies -- lawless youth, widespread cynicism and self-absorption. Granting that, the film offers neither a critique of those societies nor a reason to celebrate a psychopath.

Mayhem is well produced with a swift pace, vigorous camerawork and solid production design along with occasional bursts of rock music. The movie goes by fleetingly enough, but you search in vain for any insights.

SUBURBAN MAYHEM

Film Finance Corporation Australia/New South Wales Film & Television Office/PMP Showtime

Credits: Director: Paul Goldman; Screenwriter: Alice Bell; Producer: Leah Churchill-Brown; Executive producer: Jan Chapman; Director of photography: Robert Humphreys; Production designer: Nell Hanson; Music: Mick Harvey; Costumes: Melinda Doring; Editor: Stephen Evans. Cast: Katrina: Emily Barclay; Rusty: Michael Dorman; Lilya: Mia Wasikowska; Kenny: Anthony Hayes; Andretti: Steve Bastoni; Dianne: Genevieve Lemon; John: Robert Morgan.

No MPAA rating, running time 89 minutes.

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1 item from 2006


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