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In Sunray, a backwater town on Australia's Murray River, there's little to do but fish or listen to the local radio station. D.J. Ken Sherry arrives from the hustle of Brisbane to run the station; he's mid-40s, detached, thrice divorced, hatchet faced. But both sisters next door find him attractive: awkward Dimity, only 20, who works in a Chinese restaurant with few patrons, and perky Vicki-Ann, a hairdresser with a hope chest who invents a happy future with Sherry based on little but his arrival. First Dimity then Vicki-Ann spend the night with Ken, one concluding he's her boy friend, the other her fiance. Then Dimity begins to smell something fishy. Written by
Overshadowed during its release by the tragic death of a stuntman Collin Dragsbaek during production, Love Serenade rises as a refreshing, observation rich film about despairing souls that happen to come together in "Sunray" a fictional country town. A town like so many real ones in Australia that manage to have a forlorn charm that shines through isolation and solitude. Love Serenade manages to sensitively capture this intangible quality to cradle its story within.
The title "Love Serenade' may have done some damage to its success as it could to easily have pigeoned holed it as a emotion saturated "chick flick". Ironically, once you know the film the title is perfect.
Essentially the film seems to be about the seductive power of persona fueled by the material mediums associated with it, in this case it's a 40 something DJ and his melodic 70's playlist. Within this entrapment all is normal and comfortable with the victim, but for the observer, in this case us the viewer, there are alarm bells and sirens going off everywhere.
DJ Ken Sherry represents what the mass media machine eventually spits out, burnt out celebrity that have been superseded by a new stock. To unfashionable to be seriously employed and to active to be retired these cast offs gravitate to anywhere that still attaches notions of greatness to there foundering media statue. George Shevtsov slips into the roll of the sleazy veteran DJ like a duck to water. His astonishing performance manages to contrive a personality that can only be described as revoltingly charming. Drawing on a a wealth of DJ streetwise experience "Ken Sherry" has an an opportunistic toy about with the misguided adoration of two local sisters. The resulting personality confrontations and moral diversities therein carries the film to its daring strange then stranger end.
Brilliantly written and directed by Shirley Barrett 'Love Serenade' is a great example of one persons vision being crafted and produced by a competent team that have taken on a singular vision. Its curious "fish" diversions and irratic surreal moments will have a large audience drop off, leaving a faithful few that will love it forever.
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