The latest in what seems to be an inexhaustible supply of quirky Australian films, Elise McCredie
's "anti-romantic, pansexual comedy" tries hard -- very hard -- to put a fresh spin on the eternal theme of the female quest for love, or at least for someone appropriate to lose one's virginity to.
While "Strange Fits of Passion" has its amusing moments, it feels relentlessly forced, and its humor is far more contrived than organic. Nominated for three Australian Film Institute Awards and an official selection at last year's Cannes International Film Festival, the film is unlikely to catch on with American audiences who are still concerned with Bridget Jones' problems.
Newcomer Michela Noonan stars in the central role of She, an unnamed young woman working in a used bookshop in Melbourne. Obsessed with romantic poetry, she is nonetheless totally unequipped when a handsome, poetry-reading man (Jack Finsterer
) comes on to her. Quickly and rudely rebuffing his advances, she spends the greater part of the film trying to find him again.
In the meantime, she has a series of predictable romantic misadventures: with a politically correct poet (Samuel Johnson
) who refuses to make the first move
with a macho Spanish teacher (Steve Adams)
with her gay best friend, Jimmy Mitchell
Butel), who is despondent when his lover is revealed to be cheating on him
and even with a pretty female charity worker (Anni Finsterer
) who briefly inspires thoughts of lesbianism.
While the film might have worked with an appealing heroine, it must be said that She, performed by Noonan with a preponderance of tics and mannerisms, is ultimately more irritating than endearing. The rambling screenplay, which employs such tired devices as having its central character address the camera directly, is lacking in wit or depth, with the result that the film, clocking in at a mere 80 minutes, seems at least twice as long. While there are some nice visual touches -- a scene set in a glass-bottomed swimming pool on a rooftop is particularly stylish -- "Passion" is ultimately more enervating than entertaining.
STRANGE FITS OF PASSION
Leisure Time Features
Director-screenwriter: Elise McCredie
Producer: Lucy MacIaren
Executive producers: Tim White, Carole Sklan
, Bryce Menzies, Ian Fairweather
, Roslyn Walker
Director of photography: Jaems Grant
Editors: Chris Branagan
, Ken Sallows
Music: Cezary Skubiszewski
Production designer: MacGregor Knox.
She: Michela Noonan
Jimmy: Mitchell Butel
Josh: Samuel Johnson
Pablo: Steve Adams
Judy: Anni Finsterer
Jaya: Bojana Novakovic
Francis: Jack Finsterer
No MPAA rating
Running time -- 80 minutes