|Index||7 reviews in total|
A simple story, common to any lonely dreamer, Ralph(Matt Day)wants to
go to Nashville to become a country music star. With a ticket to
America and a dream he heads off to Sydney only to be picked up on the
road, by Boyd(Richard Roxburgh) and Patsy(Miranda Otto) On first blush,
Boyd and Pasty seem to be an Australian version of the stock
wise-cracking American grifter, stealing, lying and drifting to make
their way in the world.
But this is just where the story begins. A fine performance by Roxburgh unfolds a character with surprising compassion and depth. Otto gives one of her better performances as the tender Patsy, too delicate to survive without the constant attention of her protective lover. And Day brings just the right touch of innocence and youthful arrogance to the young man who learns a crucial lesson from his world weary traveling companions.
If you like country music or even if you don't, this is a terrific slice of something that has the flavor of americana, but supplies the depth often lacking in American films. It's worth a look just for Roxburgh's performance alone-
It's too bad that the sweet little "Doing Time For Patsy Cline" only
finally got commercial release in the U.S. in 2006, because its premise
has gotten a bit dated in a post-Keith Urban/Jamie O'Neal world where
Aussies have now taken Nashville by storm. It's not that crazy a
fantasy for a kid to dream of getting from the bush to Music City.
The structure of the film musically turns around two parallel road movies, one a picaresque tour of the back roads of a northern New South Wales peopled with eccentric characters, and the other a fantasy "Wizard of Oz"-like imagining them all as alter-egos seeking fame and fortune in country music, intentionally mimicking Johnny Cash's bio (as later more seriously filmed in "Walk the Line").
The fantasy scenes are amusing satires of country music's rags to riches stereotypes of singers, managers and performances. But even the reality scenes are amusing satires of country bumpkins vs. Sydney sophisticates, salt of the earth station families vs. drug dealers. The prison blues jokes do get a bit repetitive as the film goes on a bit too long in going through every jail and jail music cliché.
Matt Day is personable and cute as "Ralph", the central kid with a guitar, a song and a dream, and his dreams are adorable. But the film is pretty much stolen by the scheming couple who pick him up as a hitchhiker, particularly motormouth Richard Roxburgh as "Boyd" who gets surprisingly more appealing and human as the film goes on. Miranda Otto as the object of their affections does Marilyn Monroe-like wide-eyed sexy yet somehow innocent very nicely, and has a surprisingly nice singing voice.
The song selections are a lovely mix of originals by the other Peter Best, covers of country classics and non-commercial country selections, such as by Emmy Lou Harris.
This film is like a country version of "Rock Follies", the British miniseries that satirized rock 'n ' roll fantasies.
This movie is worth seeing for the music alone (if you like
The plot is predictable, the mix between reality and fantasy gets very annoying after a while. In spite of this, it is an enjoyable movie on the whole, due mainly to the charm of the main characters.
The stereotypical "Mum and Dad" are right out of a beer commercial (or a 1950s Australian film). In fact the whole movie seems to be more like something made in 1955 than 1997. With most movies made these days with the international market in mind, it is surprising that someone made one that would be totally confusing to anyone other than an Australian.
Bush boy Ralph plans to travel to the big smoky city, catch a flight to Nashville and bingo! A new country singer star is born. But, unfortunately for him, he meets up with fast talking Boyd and sweet Patsy. The law gets a whiff of them and the boys end up in a country jail, hence the title. For young Ralph this becomes an experience that will improve his country music lyrics about standard issues of prison, women and the hard life. A pleasant comedy that wobbles on its legs towards the end. Roxburgh excels as Boyd, helped with a fine script by Kennedy. The catchy song is a bonus.
I thought of Dickens and 'it's a far, far better thing...'. Yes, of course it comes across a tad corny but that's to set you up for the end. This is the film that got a country music hating pedophile into Patsy Cline and that can't be a bad thing. As for the comment about Mum and Dad being from either a beer commercial or the fifties, I can assure you I went on country holidays at grandma's sisters and second cousins' houses that could have been acting coaches for those two. It's also a film that gives you a real belly laugh about five times through it. Not many films that aren't marketed as full-on comedies give you that.
BUT! There's always a film that we seem to drag up that indeed puts us to shame. With a slightly boring story line with confusing dreamscapes and reality flashes, the viewer struggles to be intrigued by this movie. Basically, a wannabe country wailer leaves his ma and pa and heads out for the wild wild world outside of his dirt home. Meets a big headed guy with an apparently gorge gal at his side with a hidden talent for country music. A film about discovering your true self...but I think we could all probably do that without a totally stereo typical movie of Aussie and their back porches...
A meandering tale of a young Australian would-be country singer (Matt Day)
on his way to Nashville to claim his fortune. In a little too unbelievable
turn of events, he hitches a ride with a couple of con artists on the lam. He
falls for the girl (Otto) and goes to prison with the guy, to cover for her.
Day's subdued obsessions is the charm of the film. His knack for country is not. Told in a needless twisted series of flashbacks and flashforwards, the story is not so much confusing as it is boring since we are revealed the inevitable climax early on.
A large part of the film spent with Day and the con man in a small outback jail, hence the name "doing time." The stereotypical characters in jail with them, Day and the con man's banal insights, and the unbelievably mixed attitude of the cops make this chunk of the film difficult to sit through. Indeed the audience is forced to do time.
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