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|Index||33 reviews in total|
I loved this movie. The characters were well-written; the acting was terrific. And the ending was unpredictable (unlike most movies made in the US) and, for me, highly satisfying. It reminded me slightly of Jane Campion's early work, but with a quirky sense of humor. I highly recommend this movie to those who enjoy a good low-key foreign comedy.
This is prime example of why I like films made outside the U.S. This film has a great plot, with an ending that was unexpected to me. The characters look good physically and the acting is superb. The plot is great one, but what I liked even more where some of the situations the lead characters got into. The situations are what made the film for me. The film is funny, without gags and schtick, it's a comedy. The way the characters look, talk and feel make the underlying comedy funny. I was really interested in what the characters were doing and how the film would end up. There was one scene that really disappointed me, probably one of the biggest disappointments that I've ever had while watching a film. Something I wanted to happen in one of the great situations in the film to one of the characters, didn't happen! Anyways, SEE THIS FILM!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I needed to use my free rental in June, so picked "Love Serenade" (from the
Barry White song) because the cover had "Two Thumbs Up" from Ebert and
company. It is an Australian film, and like most foreign films does not use
very many modern filming techniques. Conventional camera angles, no
selective focus to isolate the subject, mimimal use of 'foley' sounds.
However, a "plus" was a selection of songs that had very specific meanings
within the scenes they support.
SPOILER ... Vicky-Ann and Dimity (was that for 'a little dim-witted'?) are sisters in a small town of rather low economic means. Ken Sherry, a radio DJ they are familiar with, moves to their small town, living next door. Vicky-Ann tells Dimity she will target him as a boyfriend, but Dimity stumbles into it first. Sherry is a sleazy person who appears to have no emotions - cold as a fish. Turns out he only eats 'beef with black bean sauce' at the local Chinese restaurant where Dimity works, and she later discovers, watching him gargle one morning, that he has tiny gills under each ear! And he is a strange-looking person anyway - very slender, long black hair, long nose, weak chin, and a severely back-sloping forehead. Perfect casting!
Poor Vicky-Ann is so optimistic, she gets dressed up in the wedding gown she had been hoarding, walks over next door, and Sherry in a very droll manner dismisses her. In an apparent attempt to kill herself, she climbs to the top of the local high spot, a grain silo. Dimity gets Sherry to come and help talk her down, and in a big surprise, Dimity pushes Sherry off to his death (stuntman reportedly died in this stunt), in what seemed like a sisterly thing to do, what with the dastardly treatment that Sherry was guilty of. Then, after they try to sink him in the river, he swims away, as shown by the path of the ballon Dimity had tied to him "I WUV YOU".
I like to watch all kinds of films, as part of my study and enjoyment of movies in general. A few of my favorite comedies - "Secrets and Lies" and "Trainspotting" come to mind - are foreign. But "Love Serenade", though interesting, does not come up to the overall quality of the better ones. Still, it is an interesting movie and I rate it "7" of 10, but not a very high "7".
In the small backwaters of Australia, two sisters compete for an older
creakily radio station DJ.
Miranda Otto plays the younger naive Dimity Hurley. Rebecca Frith plays the older obsessive sister Vicki-Ann Hurley. They're both unusual, but strangely have the same taste in men. George Shevtsov plays Kenneth 'Ken' Sherry, the disconnected poetry spouting thrice divorced man. He's not pretty but he is new in town.
The sisters' relationship and their fascination with this man drive this movie. The movie is spiced up with good music. It's strangely compelling.
Plenty of good reviews up already covering the quirky humour and great
soundtrack. Just wanted to give some praise for the Production and
Costume Design - it's great!
Perhaps the fact that it's since dated so much helps, but it really gave that backwater country town vibe that made the film for me.
Highlights: Vicki-Ann's floral date dress, sets for the radio station, Chinese restaurant and Dimiti & Vicki-Ann's house.
The best part was Vicki-Ann's hair salon - perfect gaudy, girly, tack-o-rama. Loved spotting the hedgehog pencil holder on the counter too (another 80s childhood flashback).
For those who have already seen this must-see film:
One of the favorable reviews above describes 'curious "fish" diversions and erratic surreal moments will have a large audience drop off.' That reviewer still loves the film, as do I, so I conclude that he or she unconsciously got the message.
At the climatic moment of the film, a whole different aspect of events becomes clear, and everything in the movie is simultaneously more funny, more serious,and more affecting. I don't know of another film like it! I think it is one of the all-time great movies.
Those surreal "fish" moments are not mere diversions on the director's part... they are markers which at that moment are revealed as bits of action seen thru the eyes of the younger sister, who passes as eccentric in the small-town atmosphere... which is the movie's main POV...until that flash of retrospective clarity.
I won't say more, just wanted to communicate with viewers who love the film but still feel confused. The reverberations are wide, but the story is, finally, clear!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Writer/director Shirley Barrett's film is an eccentric look at abusive,
manipulative relationships and sexual relations between a much married,
mid-forties sleaze and two young, naive and smitten sisters.
George Shevstov is the ex-Brisbane radio king Ken Sherry, who has escaped to the Victorian river town of Sunray where he is to resurrect local station 3SR-FM. There to welcome him in very different ways are sisters Vicki-Ann (Rebecca Frith) and Dimity Hurley (Miranda Otto). Shevstov personifies the lanky, smooth talking philosopher who takes advantage of the girl's naivety with ease, making us believe he is the world's lowest, yet somehow not repulsing us completely. Miranda Otto is fantastic as the deceptive Dimity, a girl you could easily fall for, and Frith is just right as her deluded, older and very dominant sister, Vicki-Ann. John Alansu rounds off the acting superbly as Albert, the bizarre Chinese restaurant owner.
A funky disco soundtrack (featuring Barry White) sures up Barrett's rather off-centre comedy which seems to send up, rather than seriously contemplate, the issues mentioned in my opening paragraph. Our writer/director has handled this well though, and with a fine quartet of performances from her main players (including a standout from Otto) the end product is good fun.
P.S. What's this "thing" about fish? Is Barrett saying people like Ken Sherry belong in another world?
Monday, November 17, 1997 - Hoyts Croydon
Rebecca Frith plays older sister Vicki-Ann, outgoing, aware of what others think and sociable, while Miranda Otto plays sister Dimity, who is just the opposite. Both of them wind up getting played by the new deejay in town, Ken Sherry (George Shevtsov). Despite the good performances of all the actors, the dialog and pacing plod through the first hour plus. Oftentimes, the Barry White songs and Gwen McRae's "Rockin' Chair" threaten to upstage the movie. But when Vicki-Ann puts on her wedding dress, the movie takes off for a fanciful, bizarre, unexpected and ultimately satisfying 20 minutes. Too bad you have to watch the first hour plus of the movie to set up the ending. My rating is for the acting and for the ending.
Definitely an ODD movie. And like Muriel's Wedding
much of the humor is of the very uncomfortable sort. But it did a good job
communicating the boredom and claustraphobia of contricted lives in a small,
I did love that I had no idea where this movie was going - like some of the other people said, the ending came completely out of the blue. I'm not sure I totally grasped all the fish stuff, though - maybe that's why I found the very last image so puzzling.
Very odd story of 2 sisters in a small Australian town who both become infatuated with a laconic disc jockey, who beds them both. The younger sister (Otto) is obsessed with fish and begins to believe that the jockey is part carp. Both sisters and very neurotic and become annoying before the film's end, but the film's emotional core seems true, and there are many scenes here worth looking at.
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