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Angela Punch McGregor
It's films like Tom White that make filmgoing seem a chore - yet there's something intriguing behind its heavy-handedness
In Tom White, the title character (played by Colin Friels) "drops out" of society after a work crisis and becomes homeless. He drifts through Melbourne meeting a rent boy (Dan Spielman), an ex-junkie (Loene Carmen), a tramp (Bill Hunter) and a young graffiti artist (Jarryd Jinks).
Scripted by Australian playwright Daniel Keane, Tom White continues to explore the societal dissociation that Keane covers in his stage works. Like them, too, it suffers from heavy-handedness, resulting in impassioned performances from hollow characters.
Additionally, Keane's interest in medieval miracle plays where every character is symbolic clashes with director Alkinos Tsilimidos and cinematographer Toby Oliver's naturalistic film-making. Tom White is harshly lit and like Praise (1998), confronts the ugliness in Australian society. At the same time we don't know what motivates these people, and the dialogue is unrealistic. It's an uneasy mix.
Colin Friels turns in a strong performance, as does Rachel Blake as his wife. But many of the other characters are overly stagey. Tom White is at its most interesting towards the end, when Tom is interacting with the young graffiti artist, but is overall an interesting failure. **/***** stars.
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