Life With Ashley intrudes on film school drop-out Chris Butler's life with his eccentric teenage sister Ashley, over seven days he helps her plan a party as a decoy, to lure her unsuspecting, virginal crush into their psychological labyrinth of obsession and obscurity so that Ashley may have her way. But what happens, when plans become actions, when what's in our heads meets what's in our beds, and the way things are meets the way they ought to be? A story that captures the complexities of love and infatuation, the medley of apathy and passion that swirls in the heads of us, learning the ludicrous rules, struggling to fit into a society, aspiring to create our own. Life with Ashley shows Australian party culture like never before. Experiencing it rather than describing, a story that writes itself as it goes, a visual documentary, rather than an anecdotal one. Dresses, questions, music, sex, and a whole lot of sitting around, Life with Ashley. Written by
How can I put this; well I haven't seen anything like this before(please excuse my ill fittingly clichéd statement for such a novel film). Even though one could cite quite a number of quality films that are derivative of the film maker's youth I have not seen a film that is the youth's experience in totality. Most film makers prior to LWA have attempted to reenact something that has become intangible to them, on the other hand Chris Butler, the producer of this piece is enveloped in the teenage experience. He is both capturing the situation of youth and being a product of it at the same time. That is not to say though this is just a collection of meandering home videos that any Gen Y could patch together on a weekend. It is immeasurably more than that as Chris and Ashley are natural story tellers, sensing how to excite and titillate both the viewer and the participants that are caught up in their filmed hijinks.
Form-wise, the film shifts from the camera being a catalyst of action (the pair film a music video to help launch Ashley's singing career) to it being a fly on the wall (Ashley and Mother become caught up in heated argument about an empty lolly packet, which turns their attention away from the fact that they are being filmed.) This conflated style feels natural and it is enjoyable to watch.
Flaunting about with acts of derring-do, the naive film makers at the time may not have read the collected works of Oscar Wilde but they have an affinity with him even so. Someone once said that ancient Greek art was the greatest period. This is because the Greeks turned to nature for inspiration whereas, generally speaking artists after this period turned to Greek art, a derivative of nature for their inspiration. The audacity to turn to nature with their own unique perspective, instead of copying from other film makers has rewarded them with an endearing and poignant work of cinema.
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