Separation City (2009) Poster

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Fresh insight on relationships
Jon Michaels5 August 2009
Just saw Separation City in my home town (and where the movie is set) of Wellington, New Zealand. Wellington looks great, and overall it is a though provoking story, and refreshingly offers up the male point of view on long term relationships.

There are some great gags, the first half of the movie produced plenty of laughs. The second half delivers quite nicely with farcical elements, but with plenty of emotion as well.

The acting is pretty good, the direction good (if a little unimaginative), and the script does well to capture some unique male experiences that I haven't seen in cinema before.

The only thing I really didn't like were the terrible voice-overs. At times they worked, but other times they were completely redundant and spoiled the moment. I really hope that they edit out about 90% of the narration before this film is released internationally.

but those are only minor criticisms - overall, it's a good film, engaging and enjoyable, and with a fresh insight into modern relationships.
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I loved this film
jhainey9 August 2009
At last a New Zealand film about real people in real situations. This film is written by Tom Scott a political journalist and one of New Zealand's best loved satirical cartoonists. His own real life experiences are evident throughout the film as the characters move from one hilarious situation to another. Set mainly in Wellington, New Zealand's capital and home of parliament, it shows the beauty of Wellington and the real New Zealand character. The actors are very believable and so funny that I was laughing out loud in the theater. My only complaint was that it wasn't longer. This is a great film about friends and the frailty of familiarity. It has great insight and will touch all who see it. My suggestion. Just get out and see it.
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An interesting perspective, let down by lazy directing
AlienByChoice22 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
One of the few romance/comedy-dramas where I could empathise with the protagonist, Separation City delivers an interesting and surprisingly realistic view on love, romance and life in general. That's not to say that I haven't heard it all before, however it was delivered in a frank yet not "in your face" manner, making this movie stand out from dozens of other films on this subject. Having said that, the movie really suffers from lazy directing. It also doesn't help that being a New Zealand movie they had to cast at least one New Zealand lead, and with all due respect to Danielle Cormack, she was out of her depth here, particularly when surrounded by the ever brilliant Thomas Kretschmann, as well as Rhona Mitra and Joel Edgerton. The scene at the beach towards the end of the film really exposes her weakness as an actress, although part of the blame lies with the surprisingly weak dialogue in that scene, which was not characteristic of this movie, I must add.

3 comments about this movie can help me illustrate my frustration with it:

1) The narration. Overly elaborate, at pains to explain every little nuance, every feeling, it felt as if the director didn't trust the actors to deliver the message through their acting. I wonder if they ever tried screening it without the narration just to see if the movie holds up on its own, because I'd bet it would.

2) Lazy directing. (here be spoilers). An example of this is Klaus painting a pohutakawa tree back in his apartment in Berlin, with Katrien's voice-over telling us that he is painting landscapes of the distant shores. Wouldn't it be better to embed a flourishing pohutakawa somewhere in the movie so that once back in Berlin and painting it, the viewer would recognise it and understand Klaus is painting a New Zealand landscape? (spoilers END)

3) Why was Mike Minogue (Errol the Fireman) in this film and what did his character contribute is beyond me.

Overall not a bad effort, I definitely agree with the message it conveys, but I do hope they release a director's cut version with no narration or at least significantly reduce the amount of it.

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Adultery right down under
Philby-36 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Simon (Joel Edgerton) is married to Pam (Danielle Cormack), the woman of his dreams but seven years of marriage have passed since their happy wedding day at Pukerua Bay, near Wellington, New Zealand. Two children have arrived with all the attendant stress and sleep deprivation, and the dream bride is now not so interested in sex. Simon falls for the beautiful Katrien (Rhona Mitra from Boston Legal), a cellist and friend of his wife who, goaded by his infidelities, has just left her husband Klaus (Thomas Kretschmann), an artist. Simon's and Katrien's attempts at adultery are thwarted until Simon, a ministerial staffer, travels to a conference in Berlin with his cabinet minister boss, the improbably named Archie Boyle (Alan Lovell), where the story comes to a climax, so to speak. Afterwards, everyone is engaged in picking up the pieces.

Watching a film about adultery is rather like witnessing a car crash in slow motion. You know someone is going to get hurt and there's nothing you can do about it. Here, writer Tom Scott, the brilliant NZ cartoonist and satirist, has made it so funny that you almost forget about the pain. The film, directed by Paul Middleditch, has a lot of flaws – ineffective use of the narration device, uninformative opening sequences, a failure to tie things up (consider Klaus's painting of a pohutukawa tree shown near the end – only NZers will associate it with the land of the long lost vowel), and some naff acting. Nevertheless I enjoyed the film immensely. Some of the set pieces are hilarious – the men's group meetings, Simon's frank conversations with his more worldly best mate Harry (Les Hill), and the antics in Berlin (Les Patterson and Bazza McKenzie definitely have their NZ equivalents). The location shots in and around Wellington are glorious – the crew should be commended for their patience in waiting for those rare windless Wellington days, though they did not always get what they wanted.

As Rhona Mitra is drop-dead gorgeous it is not hard to feel some (male) sympathy for Simon, who does make an effort to resist her charm. Their affair is indeed an accident and painful for both. On discovering the affair, Pam storms off, but her bond with Simon is stronger than it first appears. It's not easy, but trust can be restored despite what the doomsayers tell us.

Joel Edgerton is effective as a man swept along by strong feelings despite his better judgment and Rhona Mitra is fine as the other woman. Danielle Cormack was not so convincing as the wronged woman. Thomas Kretschmann makes a thoroughly dislikeable Klaus – arrogant and callous. I liked Les Hill as Harry the pub philosopher but he is probably an acquired taste eg "there's no such thing as premature ejaculation, only delayed orgasm."

Like many NZ films the comedy here does not always neatly complement the more serious themes. This, I think, stems from the antipodean tendency to make light of near or actual disaster, an attitude embodied in the phrase "she'll be right". New Zealanders are optimists, opportunists and great improvisers, but not ones to ponder the meaning of life. Errol the fireman (Mike Minogue) does ask the question in the men's group. He is met with an uncomfortable silence.
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Soap comedy plot
Seemp deHond30 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I had high expectations as this rated almost 8 here. The movie takes on a few unhappy marriages and adultery which doesn't bother me from a moral point of view, don't get me wrong, but is just so tedious as the main plot line. It all reeks of bad comedies and soap operas taking themselves far too serious.

It gets ultimately silly with the forceful unnatural plot twists to have them all ending up in Berlin or a conference chasing each other and acting out since they are finally away from home.

It's not funny, it's not moving, it's just nothing. I could hardly sit it out. Some very bad story writing and acting here.
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Insightful Story, Delightful Humour
G Dunne5 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Separation City is a well-crafted story from Tom Scott, script writer and Kiwi cartoonist. The acting from leads Joel Edgerton, Danielle Cormack and Rhona Mitra is convincingly nuanced, complemented by a number of fine supporting roles. Simon (Edgerton) and Pam (Cormack)'s marriage has become largely functional under the pressures of raising children plus the demands and long hours of his job in a government minister's office. Cellist Katrien (Mitra) and artist Klaus (Thomas Kretschmann)'s relationship on the other hand has been rendered dysfunctional by his straying attentions. The story has a distinctive New Zealand setting, with a universal appeal as a gentle skewering of the highs and lows of marriage and relationships, leavened with Scott's trademark humour.
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Unlikeable characters
tadaia19 September 2016
I really wanted to like this because of the cast and locale. Pros: - Wellington and sets are absolutely beautiful. - Mostly good performances - Great gags. At times you will laugh out loud. - The tone is set early for real-lifelike imperfect marriages among 30-somethings.

Cons: - Uncomfortable and noticeable male bias in the storytelling. Male bias is of course not a problem in itself, but this feels dated and out of place. - Nearly every important character is downright unlikeable and not relatable, in particular the adulterous leads (a housewife's close friend and the housewife's husband who somehow blames her because he can't keep it up without medicinal assist). Even cheaters in films should be able to elicit some degree of sympathy from the audience. I almost hoped the cheaters would somehow get struck by lightning while together. But as satisfying as that might've been it wouldn't have been very realistic. :-/
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Great Kiwi Drama
Sally Warner8 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Come on and get behind yet another of our wonderful kiwi movies. I am biased as my friend is the accountant but I love the scenery and the outright clumsiness of the oh so kiwi back drop people.

The story is good and complex and strikes a chord with me. A tale of mixed up confused people trying hard to do their best and getting it so wrong at times. I laughed, was embarrassed, wanted to dish out one of those best friend lectures and really wanted to shake a couple of people just like you would if they were your good friends.

For kiwis take a look at Winston Peters mixed with the underpants story. Classic.
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