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A small town in rural Australia (Paris) makes its living by causing car accidents and salvaging any valuables from the wrecks. Into this town come brothers Arthur and George. George is killed when the Parisians cause their car to crash, but Arthur survives and is brought into the community as an orderly at the hospital. But Paris is not problem free. Not only do the Parisians have to be careful of outsiders (such as insurance investigators), but they also have to cope with the young people of the town who are dissatisfied with the status quo. Written by
Mark Thompson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
More weird than mysterious or horrific, an allegory mired in distractions
One hour into this movie and I wasn't exactly sure what kind of movie it was trying to "be". It starts off as a smalltown horror mystery of sorts but Peter Weir saddles it with so much absurdist black comedy the mystery all but evaporates and we're looking at something that is more weird/awkward than mysterious/surreal, more slow-ponderous than slow-absorbing, large parts of it reminiscent of Aki Kaurismaki and his static shots, cynical humor, deadpan delivery, and smalltown squalor. By the end of it however, the movie seems to emerge as some sort of societal parable, an allegory to the repression of a close-knit society that values appearances and tradition more than anything else and which must bury secrets in its own backyard to do so, but there's so much distraction and incoherence the point is never made with any clarity or force.
At one point the score turns Morricone circa Once Upon a Time in the West and we get a showdown in the street and young men dressed with cowboy hats. We get Carmageddon-style cars circling the statue of a cannon like Comanches painted for war. We get the vague promise of a subplot about car crash survivors turned vegetables who are kept in the hospital of the small town and who later turn up in a ball masque dressed in hoods and carton boxes (a nod to Shock Corridor?), but it never goes anywhere. Peter Weir went on to make such remarkable films as Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Last Wave, and while this never reaches the hypnotic levels of those films, it's intriguing in its own quirky awkward way. It's like a movie struggling with itself, a cult classic trying to break free from the confines of a forgettable eccentricity.
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