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Barky, a lost soul of 25, returns from the Australian cane fields to his hometown, inner-city Erskineville. Barky left two years ago to escape his drunken and abusive father, leaving behind everything in the world that was important to him. His brother Wace. His girlfriend Lanny. His life. Now that his father's dead, he thinks it's safe to come home, but Barky soon discovers that if staying home was hard, coming home is harder. Wace is bitter. Barky ran away just like their mother. Wace toughed it out. Alone he stood by his dying father. After two years and no explanation, can Lanny take Barky back? With everything on the line will Barky choose again to leave it all behind? In the King's Hotel the two brothers try to make sense out of life after their father's death. Beer, anger and pain prove to be a dangerous mix. Written by
I can quite happily quote you chapter and verse when it comes to Erskineville Kings because I love this film with fierce intensity. Even though EK has an unconventional feel to it and we are asked to confront some nasty issues along the way, it touched my soul the very first time I saw it and it still has the capacity to create a heavy swell of tension in my chest with each and every viewing, despite the fact I've seen it more times now than the majority of you have had hot dinners! The fact that Hugh Jackman landed the part of Wace, the oldest of two brothers around whose strained relationship the film is centred, is the reason I became aware of EK in the first place, but Wace is a dark, brooding character who spends the majority of this film being totally unpleasant and whilst we come to learn he has his reasons for behaving this way, I for one do not relate to him easily. No, my well-spring of emotion arises from seeing and responding to the plight of the younger brother Barky (played by the screenwriter and actor Marty Denniss) whose quiet personality and passive nature make him seem like a dog that's been kicked too much but which still wags its tail in a vain attempt to please. Dogs are cute and so is Marty Denniss (he easily makes it to prime position in my top 10) and I just want to hug Barky to death whenever he's on screen and stop his humiliation and end his pain.
I can see why Hugh is particularly proud of this role though because his portrayal of Wace is amazing especially in view of the fact it was his debut feature film. It also never ceases to amaze me how people's reactions to EK vary so widely from those like me who love it with a passion to others I've come across who quite happily admit they have little or no time for it. Is that the mark of a good film or a bad one? I'll leave it to you to decide for yourselves once you've seen it because this review will tell you at a glance exactly which way my vote is cast.
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