Natalie and Ross struggle to stay in the middle class in a Melbourne suburb, with their likable son and daughter, 12 and 7. Their lives are upended one August day when Natalie faints during a routine medical checkup: it's an aneurysm followed by major surgery, convalescence, and a doctor's advice to avoid heavy lifting, straining on the toilet, stifled sneezes, and orgasms. Over the next year, we watch the family in vignettes, one each month: domestic frustrations, a tempting colleague, Christmas, a pet fish, a holiday, a church choir and conversations about God, a chicken hawk, a birthday party, football games, and fears that another aneurysm is just a sneeze away. Written by
On the face of it this is pretty mundane stuff, a year in the life of an ordinary Western Suburbs Melbourne family, but Sarah Watts, responsible for another charming domestic drama, "Look Both Ways", is able to invest the story with a great deal of charm. She demonstrates without resorting to soap opera clichés that life in the suburbs can indeed be life on the edge.
Natalie (Sasha Horler) a hard-working mother of two suffers a brain aneurism, fortuitously while at the doctor's. She recovers but is advised to avoid strenuous activities, including sneezing and having sex with her loving husband Ross (Matt Day). In the next twelve months, each neatly packaged into an episode, life does not go easily. Natalie has to give up her job, Matt is threatened with redundancy, the car is written off in a holiday accident, the clothes dryer self-destructs, the family dog is attacked, and the house gets more untidy than ever. But the family survives and the film ends on a positive note.
This is a film most Australians would identify with. The family's situation is real and Watt generates a fair degree of humour out of it. There's Louis, a 12 year old Aussie Rule fanatic, Ruby, a cute 8 year old, and a much-loved dog, Bubblehead. There are some dodgy rich friends they envy and Ross (a sound engineer at a radio station) has a collection of odd workmates. Christmas and Easter are times of trial as well as celebration. Religious feeling hovers in the wings, especially in the person of former one-hit wonder pop-star turned priest Margaret (Maud Davey). Like most Australians the family are practising hedonists, but Natalie's brush with death does stimulate some deeper questions for them. Apart from the teasing chapter titles there's not much about sex in the picture, but there is a warm understanding of what makes families work. These are ordinary people kept together by their regard for one another. Money matters but it does not rule them. There's not a lot of support from their friends but they get by, somehow.
Sasha Horler puts in an extraordinary performance, and Matt Day's rather self-effacing character complements her beautifully. Jonathan Segat as Louis the football fanatic is also extremely convincing. Unfortunately the $4 million budget does not leave a lot for promotion and this film will probably not be widely seen. It is more of a comedy and less of a drama than "Look Both Ways", but it is directed with assurance and flair.
16 of 18 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?