|Index||9 reviews in total|
Interesting city drama of insurance scam with a reasonable romance added as a diversion RISK offers watchable lanky local dude-actor Tom Long quite a good addition to his CV. Unfortunately it has Bryan Brown doing his usual Aussie slang laden yobbo bloke thing we cinema-goers have suffered through since COCKTAIL. Talking out of the side of his mouth and scowling...so tedious. The gorgeous Claudie Karvan however is the girl and she is always competent and easy to believe..perhaps it is her acting no matter what the material. The other star of this 'quite good' film is the city of Sydney itself and this stab at 'office block business' not often depicted in Australian movies is a fairly successful attempt at a Grisham style thriller. THE FIRM -ish in Sydney? Close. It did not have much of a release and probably looked to possible audiences like a TV movie which is certainly is not.
The hero, Ben, is not so much a man as a man-shaped jellyfish. Maybe the
plot requires him to do almost anything anyone else asks of him, but he
could at least do so with some attitude - not necessarily "attitood", in the
American sense; I'd merely like him to have some point of view or other
towards his own spinelessness. (As Jack Lemmon does in "The Apartment".
Maybe I would have enjoyed "Risk" more if I hadn't seen "The Apartment" a
few hours earlier.) He could at the very least have been aware of it. But
his character is so completely amorphous that it comes as a shock to hear
him narrating events. The character we see on screen is scarcely capable of
forming sentences, let alone using them to express ideas. And the heroine
is a similarly empty creation. (I winced when the two of them fell for each
other; they seemed to be doing it simply because the film noir genre
required it. This is NOT a remake of "Double Indemnity", but someone
evidently thought that it was.)
The gimmick behind the story is a good one and the direction is uninspired without being flawed in any particular way (at least, not obviously); had the central characters been characters, perhaps it might have worked well enough.
Great film. Stylish, cynical, very well made. Strong performances by the three leads make for a most enjoyable film, even if the characters are so unlikeable because of their mean and manipulative ways. Australian film-making is getting better and better.
"Risk" (2000) is a neatly-contained neo-noir set in Sydney. The
production design and art direction give us very sleek and clean
settings, interior and exterior. The cars are immaculate; the buildings
are clean, tall and sturdy. Inside the insurance company building, the
personnel are all dressed in dark suits busily moving purposefully
within the glass and metallic environment. The bar frequented by the
conspirators of insurance fraud, Bryan Brown, Claudia Karvan and Tom
Long, has a beautiful curved bar, clean as can be.
All is in order except that it isn't. Brown is an insurance adjuster. Karvan is an outside lawyer who represents claimants. They have a scheme that defrauds the company and lines their pockets. The innocent Tom Long is brought in to settle unadjusted claims and increase their takings. Their sex relationships, a triangle, lifts the story considerably. Karvan, in particular, is frosty when she's not hot and hot when she's frosty, if you know what I mean. She nails her well-written role as femme fatale. Her part is essential to the movie's enjoyment. Her greed for more and her infidelity to Brown, who did not expect her to go as far as she did with Long, sets in motion the last part of the movie.
Brown, of course, is always watchable. I first noticed him in the 1980 "Breaker Morant". He just slides right into his part effortlessly, or so it appears. Long is well-cast as the young man drawn into their scheme and into Karvan's arms. His character has to be somewhat enigmatic, maybe not as innocent as he seems. Long carries this off nicely.
The story is tight. The cinematography captures the clean environment, often even exaggerating it with wide-angle shots. The fraud is plausible. This being neo-noir, there are no guarantees about a happy ending, or a happy ending for all.
This film is not the greatest ever made, but it is watchable. I liked the fact that it gave me a bit of an inside look the insurance industry and how it operates. The performances by the three lead actors were satisfactory, nothing brilliant though. Just a note - Guy Pearce was not in the film, it was Tom Long!
I found "Risk" quite enjoyable even if the writing was a little bit loose. Tighter writing would have resulted in a first class movie. Visually the car accident scene was gut wrenching for what wasn't shown on the screen. I was very impressed by the two songs played by ex Canberra band 78 Saab - "Whatever makes you happy" and "Sunshine". The band has a great sound. Pity the movie is not being shown in North America.
I just saw this movie at the Toronto Film Festival, And I have to say that this is by far the best movie that i have seen in a long time. The performances by the three key players are dead on, and the direction is flawless. It is just too bad that this movie hasn't found a distributer for North America.
What a dreary, plodding film this is!
Sure, it's dressed up in a slick package - read as 'pretty pictures'- but it's a bit like watching characters smoke on screen (yes, they look cool, but you know they smell bad). Tom Long is proving himself as the master of monotone morons. Is this all he can play? When you see the trailer to this film, you may be mistaken in thinking it's a fast paced thriller. It should be, but there's nothing thrilling about it. Tom Long sits there looking serious, Claudia Karvan does her hard faced, cold hearted character we've seen too many times from her and Bryan Brown drinks his beer, smokes his cigs and calls everyone a b**tard. Brian Meegan is the one standout performer and he only gets about 4 minutes screen time anyway. Alan White knows his shot composition, but at the end of the day, it's a meaningless, empty experience (just like his earlier Erskinville Kings) - I mean, is the guy a director or a cinematographer?
A total lack of character and emotional involvement.
Australian film is in a bad state if this is where we're at.
Risk is all about the three principals. Guy Pearce is fast becoming
of Hollywoods coming men, Bryan Brown is one of Hollywoods long
token Australians, while Claudia Karven is not so well known
Australia's shores, but locally is a polished regular of Australian
Pearce makes a wonderfully naive 'bleeding heart' whose presence triggers a long standing scheme of Bryan Brown's, fully at home in the archetypal brash Ozzie male. Claudia Karven plays the other half of the scam, bringing with it the naked ambition that any scam needs to be motivated, and ultimately unravel, as well as bringing significant sexual tension to the plot, which is just one aspect of the developing relationship between the three central characters.
The plot itself is nothing new, the combination of spin and setting perhaps is.
It suffers slightly from the 'recognizably Australian' syndrome which plagues some Australian films, with Sydney Harbor, and particularly it's famous bridge squeezed into shot, sometimes for no other reason than to show us, hey this is Sydney!
The direction works for me, the soundtrack is not intrusive, there's a Porsche featured, which always adds to the looks of a film for me, but also the two younger stars show themselves off attractively for the cameras.
But what really drives the film is the clash between Brown's ruthlessness, Karven's ambition, and Pearce's straight man role, all mixed in with a dollop of fear, greed and lust.
See it, you'll enjoy.
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