The meaning of the title "Ten Empty" refers to the number of canvasses the mother is given to paint as part of her psychological cognitive therapy. When given to her, they are ten empty canvasses. See more »
A glass of beer appears in Ross's hand during his drunken scene, just after he has tried to get Elliot to play the piano. See more »
TEN EMPTY Rating TBC Time 95 minutes Country Australia Director Anthony Hayes Cast Daniel Frederiksen, Geoff Morrell, Lucy Bell, Jack Thompson Distributor Icon Worth $12.00 Released July 3
" resounds with rare honesty and sings with hard fought emotional truth."
In Australian cinema, this country's suburban heartland is often depicted as a goofy, daggy place, usually by filmmakers who have most likely grown up amongst the hip cafes and art scenes of our inner city cultural hubs. The new film Ten Empty, however, brutally turns the suburban depictions of films like Holy Smoke and The Castle on their soft, fizzy heads. In this dark, seething little drama which comes courtesy of debut screenwriter/director Anthony Hayes and co-writer/actor Brendan Cowell, two of this country's most dynamic young talents the Australian suburbs are home to the kind of bleak, all encompassing human crises that wouldn't be out of place in the works of Eugene O'Neill and Arthur Miller. There are, however, far more uses of the word "cunt" than either of those masters of the human condition would have ever dared use.
Elliott Christie (a nice slow burn from up-and-comer Daniel Frederiksen, who was so effective in the TV mini-series Bastard Boys) is a taciturn, slightly up-himself mover-and-shaker who returns to his family home in the Adelaide suburbs to be named godfather of his new half-brother. The whole situation, however, sits on an emotional knife edge: Elliott's mentally unstable mother has died, leaving his boozy, blustery father Ross (a daringly full bodied turn from Geoff Morrell) to hook up with her sensitive sister Diane (an excellent Lucy Bell), as younger brother Brett (an uncharacteristically quiet Tom Budge) locks himself away in his room, refusing to talk. Looking on with a mix of compassion and curiosity are family friends Bobby Thompson (a perfectly cast Jack Thompson in "top bloke" form), Shane Hackett (Brendan Cowell makes the most of his character's seedy and foul mouthed opportunities) and the effervescent Bernadette (Blazey Best provides a lot of spunk and sex appeal as the film's only normal, relatively well adjusted character).
Co-creators Hayes and Cowell as actors, writers, producers and directors have been previously and variously involved with a number of tough, beautifully crafted projects (The Boys, Love My Way, Look Both Ways, and the short film New Skin, amongst others), and bring all of that to bear on their impressive feature debut as behind-the-scenes talents. Their script zings with pungent dialogue (Ross' euphoric description of buying a new set of beer taps for his home bar is particularly amusing) and pointed observations about the Australian character. A scene in which Elliott is quietly hounded and berated after turning down the offer of a beer at a family barbecue is absolutely spot-on in both its humour and familiarity. Ten Empty also comes complete with a fascinating crew of characters. While the central figure of Elliott is necessarily something of a cipher, everyone else practically leaps off the screen. Though not always likable (Ross is a self-absorbed bully; Shane is a bit of a grub), they're textured, recognisable and gut-pokingly real.
Despite moments of raucous humour, the concerns of Ten Empty are largely and impossibly dark, as it wades into mental illness, alcoholism, betrayal and lacerating family dysfunction, possibly steering itself away from a large cinema audience in the process. Yes, it might be unpalatable and often grimy in its depiction of local cultural custom, but the big-and-brave Ten Empty ultimately resounds with rare honesty and sings with hard fought emotional truth.
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