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I absolutely loved this film. This is the best of all the adolescent/coming of age/high school genre films. Set in the mid 1960's Australia at an all boys school (St.Albans....across the river from the all girls school). Our protagonist is a sympathic yet strong/intelligent character. He is constantly picked on by his peers (mild stuttering, intellectual, a bit different), but he takes everything in stride with the viewpoint that he's "offering them a service", "people need to put down others to feel better about themselves" (great line and greatly written throughout.). His eventual love is a new student at the girls school, she is from Uganda (British educated) and is different enough to be a target of ridicule from her peers. They both find each other despite the prison camp like conditions of their respective schools. The story is great, the writing is poetic, and the acting is superb. I can't believe I didn't hear of it when released. I found it in a local Library video department. The only thing I didn't like about the film is the title....."Flirting" just doesn't do this film justice. I came away from this film with a great appreciation for the writing and directing of John Duigan... though I haven't come across anything from him recently as good. Noah Taylor is an amazing actor... I would like to see more of this actor... in better films. I also thought the whole cast in Flirting were perfect.
Those who've watched The Wonder Years will recognise the style of
storytelling here. The main character is also the narrator, there's an
ongoing reference to world events, there are adolescents growing into
maturity, and there are some wonderfully rounded and recognisable
Both main characters experience discrimination, including in Thandie Newton's case, racial discrimination both overt and implied - e.g. an Australian lad says to her "Your English is very good", to which she responds "So is yours"!
On the surface it's just a coming-of-age school story, but the film continually rises above this to greater heights of poignancy and subtlety.
Nicole Kidman is brilliant in the difficult role of the head of school who apparently has it all until, in one of the most moving moments of the film, her true self is revealed.
The only reason I even watched this movie (at first) is because there was nothing else on tv, and I saw from the commercial that Nicole Kidman was in it. I'd seen Noah Taylor in the Tomb Raider movie and loved his dorky, scatterbrained performance. So I sat down and watched it. I was amazed. This movie is GREAT for a romantic person. The difficulty of the situation in Africa, combined with sad romance, repression, and brutality was enough to make me feel the emptiness that comes with the longing for true love that every girl and boy feels at one point or another. I rented the movie on video, and was surprised to find that very little was cut out; just a few slightly racier moments, and a foul word or two, plus one scene at the end was double-shot to have Thandie Newton in a bra and panties rather than naked. Rent it and watch if you're a longing romantic, or if you want to be one. Ah, love is such exquisite pain.
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut
to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it
Don't let the title fool you. Although this is one of the sweetest movies you'll ever see, it is no beach blanket bingo for bimbos. This is an Aussie story of teen love set in 1965, heroic as only teens can play it. It is fun to watch, authentic and original at the same time, a coming of age flick in the English boarding school tradition of "Dead Poet's Society" (1989) and "A Separate Peace" (the novel, not the so-so movie). Noah Taylor stars as Danny Embling, an outsider who reads Sartre and Camus while satirizing the school's empty traditions. Across the lake is the girl's school where Thandiwe Adjewa (Thandie Newton), daughter of the Ugandan ambassador, is learning to meld with the Aussie pale faces, including a gifted pre-Hollywood Nicole Kidman.
Thandie Newton and Noah Taylor, as beautifully directed by John Duigan, are the reasons this film is so good. She has a fearless integrity about her that overcomes the prejudices of her school mates. He is wise and brave at a hundred and twenty pounds. She too is ultra sophisticated. She even met Sartre. This is a story about the love between two outsiders who, with their strength of character win over not only their classmates, but the audience as well. Imagine teenagers as witty and poised as say Eartha Kitt and Gore Vidal, and you get a hint of how it's played.
Nicole Kidman as the snobby Nicola Radcliffe (the name says it all) manages a subtle supporting role with a diamond-in-the-rough kind of charm and just the right touch of on-screen growth. The scene where she shares her stash of vodka (or perhaps a clear fruit liquor) with Thandiwe Adjewa is beautifully turned by Director John Duigan. Also excellent is the hotel scene where the adults are revealed as intrusive in the extreme. I like Danny Embling's line as he deadpans to a re-robing Thandiwe, "They're all funny, aren't they?" Yes, those adults are a little peculiar.
This is not unflawed, however. The ending, despite the rousing music, seemed a bland washout, leaving us with a sense of disappointment. And I thought the first love scene with the two "touching" was a little unreal. I mean he might have kissed her! There's a limit to how great a coming of age, boarding school movie can be, especially when the adults have only scarecrow parts. Nonetheless "Flirting" is a confectioner's delight, and one of the best coming of age movies I've ever seen.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This has got to be by far one of the most touching, intelligent,
sensitive and emotionally mature and rewarding films out there on first
love. What is also truly impressive is that it deals with this topic
while also touching on inter-racial love, racism, African colonialism,
and Jean-Paul Sarte without ever once becoming condescending or
maudlin. It is a film that not only respects the feelings of the two
fully-inhabited main character but by doing so, makes the viewer all
the more involved in their world and feelings for each other. The
director and the script both assume that the viewer is intelligent and
the viewer is accordingly rewarded.
Noah Taylor and Thandie Newton are truly exceptional and highly intelligent actors and watching both their bodies of work like "Shine", "Max", "Beseiged" and "Crash has truly been a pleasure. I do hope the best is yet to come from these fine actors and I'm sure their futures are bright.
Much has been made of Nicole Kidman in this film but really she's only a secondary character as well as the young Naomi Watts. I wish Hollywood would stop looking at this film as a Nicole Kidman vehicle when truly Taylor and Newton deserve the attention for this early work.
This movie is also beautifully shot, especially the scenes when Danny rows his boat over the river by moonlight or watching the two of them skim rocks over the water surface or Danny at the end, reading Thandie's letter on the windy rocks and the sky suddenly clearing up on him. At the very end Danny come to the very mature realization on the transcendent nature of true love, something which I don't think he understood in "The Year My Voice Broke".
I actually went out and got this film on DVD and never tire of watching it from time to time, a sign of great film. It really reminds you of what it was once like when those first feelings of romantic love started to appear in your life, all the promise, the novelty and the authenticity as well as the insecurities. So it's not really just a "teen" movie, I think just about anyone who has had these experiences can appreciate this gem of a film.
Do yourself a favour and try finding a copy, you won't regret it.
I enjoyed this movie. I particularly liked the way they referred to Camus and Sartre in such offhand ways. I think this is the type of move that you must see again and again to get the full impact. I plan to see it a few more times to soak in all the nuances of the plot and character formation.
This is Nicole Kidman's first major film role, and she is remarkable.
The way she develops her character really has you going. I won't say
more except that you'll love her. Taylor and Newton do a fantastic job
in their coming-of-age roles. Newton is absolutely beautiful -- I fell
The screenplay has excellent depth and is uproariously funny in parts, enraging, tender and even tear-jerking. It even has an underlying theme with incisive international political insights into events in Africa during the Sixties. Agree with the politics or not, it has a lot to say -- really a thinking man's film.
Some guys may dismiss it as a chick flick, but if so, it's one of the best I've seen. What may surprise many is that it even has one of the best boxing scenes I have witnessed on celluloid. Yes, the story is Kafkaesque in a way, but it is also terribly sweet. Taylor's lead role (Danny) is one of the most original I've seen on film -- the school nerd who is really a poet with more character than the rest of the school combined (including the staff). The entire film is his recollection of events, much of it narrated by him as though he'd written the screenplay.
When I saw it a couple of years ago, I wondered where it had been all my life. This is a must- see hidden jewel like Denzel Washington's "Mississippi Masala." It may not be as hot as MM, but it comes damned close in parts.
I know this is a sequel but I never saw the first film but I am familiar with the actors. Noah Taylor from "Shine" and Thandie Newton from "MI2" and of course Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts. Newton is wonderful in a strong but understated performance. Her character is very complex as we watch her try and fit in but the school system always does its job of reminding her of where she comes from and who she is. Taylor is a good actor and does a good job of blending both his awkwardness and real heart at the same time. The romance between the two comes off unexpectedly well and you can't help but root for the two in a strict environment. On a trivial note, both Newton and Kidman would end up in films with Tom Cruise. I wonder how far off Naomi Watts is from being in one? Film is typical coming of age story but the unique angle is Newton's character as the daughter of an important African statesman and the result that we find out at the end of the film. Film is very nicely handled on every level.
Before Nicole Kidman became an international superstar, she starred in
this Australian flick about a romance between a white Australian boy
(Noah Taylor, who played David Helfgott as a teenager in "Shine") and
an African girl (Thandie Newton, of "Crash" fame) in a boarding school
in the mid-'60s. It sounds like something that could easily be a total
cliché, but they do it quite well, developing the characters beyond
what we anticipate.
The main stars of "Flirting" certainly show the talent that they would bring to their later roles. A very young Naomi Watts - several years before watching a killer video and getting carried around by a giant ape - also stars.
Intelligently written piece that combines sub-genres of Coming of Age
and inter-racial films.
The plot is fairly straightforward and the message of the film is not deep. Nevertheless, it is an original film which is simply and cheaply made.
The first strength of the film lies in the exquisite performances from great cast of the then unknown actors, 3 of whom have gone on to great performances in many other films (Taylor, Newton and Kidman).
Secondly (assuming you are over 14 years old), the audience will have a strong feeling of resonation with the subject matter (growing up, alienation the school "norm", being allowed to behave differently etc). The fact that the film is by a British director about an Australian boarding school probably means that the film has a wider appeal to all anglo-saxon nations.
Finally, the humour is understated but engaging.
I loved this film on release. It has not lost any of its charm since, though you are slightly distracted by seeing well-known actors in their youth.
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