7.1/10
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27 user 20 critic

The Rage in Placid Lake (2003)

An exuberant, sharply satirical comedy about two parentally neglected teenagers who find the courage to believe in themselves

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4 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jordan Brooking ...
...
...
...
Lucas Fraccaro ...
Bull (5 years old)
Cruise Moylan ...
Angus (5 years old)
Zan Cross ...
Lachie (5 years old)
Garry McDonald ...
Eleeza Hooker ...
Young Gemma
Yesse Spence ...
Jenny (as Jesse Spence)
Simone Cullinan ...
Sharon
...
Bozo
...
Bull
...
Lachie
Stephen James King ...
Angus

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Storyline

Precocious, bohemian teenager Placid Lake, finishes high school and decides to do the one thing that will annoy his new age parents the most--go straight! With a few weeks spent reading a library of self-help manuals, Placid has it all sorted out--and he has the haircut and the cheap suit to prove it. Can Placid Lake retire his rage in the pursuit of beige; embrace conformity and leap on the fast track to corporate success. Will his 'brainiac' friend Gemma be able to talk him out of this economic rationalist madness? And will poor Doug and Sylvia survive the ignominy of having a son with a burgeoning future in insurance? Never underestimate the evil of banality. Written by Sujit R. Varma

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for anyone who ever felt different... your hero has arrived. See more »

Genres:

Comedy

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Release Date:

28 August 2003 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

A Grande Virada  »

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2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

[first lines]
Placid Lake: I try to find the positives in my experiences
Young Placid: [dressed in a frilly dress for his first day of school, and about to be pushed onto the playground by his hippie mother] Mummy, I *can't*.
Sylvia Lake: Darling, just remember you're challenging their pre-conceived notions of sexuality.
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Connections

Featured in Getaway: Getaway to the Music (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Naked
Written by Ben Lee
Published by BMG Music Publishing Australian Pty Ltd
Performed by Ben Lee
Modular Recordings 2002
Licensed courtesy of EMI Music Australia
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User Reviews

 
Rage in Placid Lake on Reel 13
15 January 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Aha! After last week's debacle with American Wake, I was starting to worry that the Reel 13 Indies were going to be a series of below average films that didn't receive more significant distribution for a reason (i.e. they stunk). But HERE - here they have found a diamond in the rough – that long lost indie gem that slipped through the cracks and failed to reach a wider audience. This, of course, leads me to two questions: 1) Who at Fox Searchlight or Focus Features went to somebody's bar mitzvah instead of a screening of this film allowing Film Movement to pick it up? and 2) Why in the hell didn't Reel 13 debut with this film instead of American Wake? (Sidenote: Another option would have been to air it on 2/2/08 when Reel 13 is showing Rebel Without a Cause – this would have been a PERFECT companion piece for that – why aren't they looking at content when pairing these films???) The first thing you need to know about The Rage in Placid Lake is that it's an Australian film. The second thing you need to know is that it stars that country's quirky rock/folk icon, Ben Lee (you may have noticed that I recently added one of his songs to the MySpace page – it's pretty good…). The film starts out with a five year-old Placid Lake being sent to school in a dress by his granola, new wave bisexual mother (Miranda Richardson) to challenge the other students' preconceived notions of sexuality or something like that. It's a very clever idea and very efficient – with a few simple images, it establishes Placid, his family and the series of problems he is likely to have when he grows up into Ben Lee.

The film is full of moments like this – visual, clever ideas that optimize screen time to push the story forward (There is a great dream scene in which Placid plays his own therapist and they discuss his life predicament and action steps to resolve it – more films need to be creative like this when it comes to exposition). There are not many belly laughs, per se, but the film is consistently amusing, often inspired and always irreverent. The script is really strong – structured without feeling manipulative and resisting the urge for sitcom-type "set-'em-up, slam it home" humor. There are a few minor contrivances (Placid's corporate job interview is a bit too easy) and there is a heavy reliance on voice-over, especially in the beginning (I am particularly biased against the over usage of VO – that and dissolves – but I won't get into that here. We could be here all day…), but on the whole, the film works on many levels.

Ben Lee is amiable and pleasant as the titular character. He has the charm, if not the chops. If you're looking for chops, look no further than Miranda Richardson as Sylvia Lake, reminding us why she was the Brit femme du jour of the early 90's when she received two Oscar nominations in a three year period (for Damage and Tom and Viv) before she faded into occasional obscure roles on BBC TV movies. Hopefully that won't be the same fate for Rose Byrne, who has the unique distinction of being the best thing in two very bad movies (Troy and Wicker Park). Byrne gives her best performance to date as Placid's genius best friend, Gemma. Byrne can't hide her sexiness (she was innocuously sexy as both a spunky slave girl and a psychotic stalker in the previously mentioned films), but she can (and does) layer it with intelligence, wit, (appropriate) pathos, and an emotional confusion that, to some degree, stems from her inability to reconcile her smarts with her sexuality.

The most memorable part of the film for me, though, involves the performance of Christopher Stollery as Joel, Placid's supervisor at his corporate insurance job. This has as much to do with Stollery's impeccable delivery and timing as it does the very concept behind the role itself. Joel becomes an unwitting, somewhat accidental surrogate father/big-brother to Placid - almost like a corporate soothsayer, whose advice is generally as much a surprise to the giver as it is to the recipient. This is a great, original narrative device invented by writer/director Tony McNamara who uses it consistently and effectively to steer the story in one direction or another.

As excited as I am that Reel 13 discovered and aired this film, I am somewhat appalled that it didn't receive domestic theatrical distribution. This isn't just a good little indie film – this is a good film in general and had it been released in 2003, it would have stood a good chance of making a few top ten lists that year, including my own. I understand that Ben Lee was less of a sell-able commodity at the time and that Australian films are not in high demand, but successes like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Bend it Like Beckham and Napoleon Dynamite prove that there is a market for more varied entertainment. We can only hope that the next hidden gem like The Rage in Placid Lake gets the kind of attention it deserves.


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