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Three young Navy officers hit Sydney for one last night on land before being shipped over to the Gulf to fight. Sam has been mistreated at sea and is going AWOL, Dean has a fiancé and the future in-laws to meet, and Harry just loves playing cards. Throughout the night the boys lose each other, find themselves, and along the way discover courage, friendship and redemption. Written by
This was the evening movie last night, and I admit missing the first half hour, but I'm glad I caught the rest of it. I was entertained AND engaged by a well paced, well written and directed, and to my great relief, well acted piece of film making.
Someone who can direct a decent film performance out of the otherwise talented Brendan Cowell and Bob Franklin must be doing something right. What director/writer Matthew Newton really gets right is the cadence of the storytelling. The tale of these three sailors' final night in Sydney, before their posting to the Gulf, skips along with energy and assuredness. The script reflects Newton's excellent ear for dialogue, and his direction sees the actors free to really work their performances in an entertaining and believable way. It helps that he's picked a fairly rocking cast too.
Newton knows the story he wants to tell, how it should come off the screen, and he nails it in nearly every scene. It's the sign of someone who's genuinely comfortable with the language of film - it isn't bogged down with technicality, only using that to unleash creativity in taking us on the journey. That's quite an achievement in this age of film formula force feeding. It says to me Newton knows his stuff well enough to crack a mold without causing audience upheaval. That he's gathered together this stellar cast is also testament to those actor's belief in the quality of his communication.
For the performances, I give special mention to Barry Otto and Heather Mitchell as the in-laws to be. Newton gives them several wonderful scenes and they reward us with their consummate acting skill. I hold Mitchell's talent on stage and in film on par with Cate Blanchett. Pity she doesn't get the roles.
But all these accolades reflect on the combined talents of Matthew Newton. He's got an almost impossible task to comeback from epic, public disaster here. I was a big detractor until tonight. But he's clearly paid his dues in his craft. Whether that's enough to keep his head above water in this country is another thing. Three Blind Mice is very good, and I'm looking forward to seeing his next contribution to a sadly lacklustre industry here.
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