A young couple, living in a campus apartment complex, are repeatedly harassed by an eccentric plumber, who subjects them to a series of bizarre mind games while making unnecessary repairs to their bathroom.
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In Adelaide, the wife of Dr. Brian Cowper, Jill Cowper, is writing her thesis at home for her Master's in Anthropology. When the plumber, Max, arrives unexpectedly to do a routine check and maintenance of the the bathroom pipes, Jill is stuck alone at home with the strange, talkative stranger. That day, he mentions spending some time in prison, frightening Jill. She talks about this to her friend Meg, her husband Brian and the superintendent's wife, but they all believe the plumber to be a simple, but nice man. Jill does not agree. There is a problem in the bathroom that brings Max back again, this time even longer. Over time, the tension between them increases. Finally, Jill finds a way to get rid of the plumber. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In the book '35 mm Dreams: Conversations with Five Directors about the Australian Film Revival' by Sue Mathews, director Peter Weir said of this film: "I think it was more a case of saying I could go back to something. The Plumber (1979) belonged way back with Homesdale (1971). It was done very quickly and with no fuss, to go straight into television without the attendant excitement of a cinema release with all its highs and lows. It reached an audience and played and I thought that's great, I've got that possibility of working on teleplays...The Plumber (1979) was made from one end to the other and played much better that way, given the tension that built up in the piece and the claustrophobic setting...it was written because I needed the money, which is sometimes a good way of doing things. It is a true story, though that is irrelevant to the audience. The couple were friends of mine and the plumber was based on someone I'd given a lift to once, hitchhiking, and except for the singing in the bathroom and the ending it is pretty much as it happened. In reality the plumber did leave, but my friend told me, 'the strange thing was that it brought out in me a kind of deviousness, a desire for the survival of my mental state that led me to consider doing really drastic things.' She was an anthropologist, studying those things, so I didn't editorialize. Her story about the incident in New Guinea when the chap came into her room, performed his ceremony or whatever and she tipped milk on him, was all from her thesis. I always thought of recounting that incident as an overture - to indicate that it was all going to happen again. And she had found herself treating it as some ritualistic thing. Like the fascination with the head of a weaving snake - she really, for her own self-knowledge, had to go through it. She had a certain pride and strength, she was not going to be forced out by this man. And obviously with a situation like that she swung wildly between that and thinking I'm going crazy with this whole thing, it is as straightforward as others see it." See more »
In the last shot of the plumber playing his guitar, there is music but he isn't moving his hands. See more »
I was just gonna' say, you've got problems. Whoever did the pipes in this block oughta' be shot. It's a wonder the place hasn't flooded!
Well, what's wrong with them, exactly?
Well, your pipes - if you'll pardon the expression - are buggered.
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This Peter Weir obscurity is really worth tracking down. A wonderful low-budget, low key thriller shot through with black humour.
This obscure Peter Weir TV movie from the late 1970s is a little dated, but still very entertaining and suspenseful. The three main actors (Judy Morris, Ivor Kants and Robert Coleby) aren't exactly household names here in Australia but will be familiar to most TV viewers over the age of 30 for their roles in various soap operas and the like. All three are excellent here in what could be their best work. Morris and Coleby play married academics. Coleby is distracted and concerned about an exciting career opportunity, Morris is currently working at home engrossed in her studies of New Guinea culture, and is timid and less confident socially than her husband. One day the plumber (Kants) arrives at their flat, and from then on her life will never be the same again. Kants is charming but rough, and very odd. A Dylanesque folk singer with a "Liberals = less tax" message on the back of his jacket (Non-Australians note the Liberal Party is our equivalent of the Republicans in the US or Conservative Party in Britain), he plays mind games with Morris, who becomes increasingly uncomfortable, and ultimately terrorized. Weir keeps things quite ambiguous and we never really know whether Kants is a dangerous psychopath or just the biggest pain-in-the-arse you could ever wish not to meet. I enjoyed 'The Plumber' a lot, it's a very effective low-budget, low key thriller shot through with plenty of black humour.
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