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This telemovie is a biopic of the longest serving Labor Party Prime Minister of Australia, Bob Hawke.
With an engaging personality as it's focus, and set in a period of great change in the country it promised to be compelling viewing yet comes off slightly flat.
The strongest points are Richard Roxburgh's beautifully nuanced performance of Hawke. Roxburgh captures the voice and mannerisms of Hawke to a tee, and clearly feels everything the character experiences in the course of the film. The deathbed scene with his mother is particularly memorable.
The dialogue in the film was it's other strongest point - really grounding the characters in their immediate time and place.
Although offering a warts and all view of Hawke's character flaws (in particular his serial adultery) the film still feels to skip through all the major points in his life in no real depth. Rather than carry us through these issues in a connected journey that allows us to feel what he felt as it unfolds - and then building to the inevitable and tragic ending for Hawke. The film instead just seems to lay them out. Perhaps this is just a bi-product of the telemovie form and the need for ads and a short running length. A 2 to 3 hour feature would have done the story much better service.
The film is also reasonably biased in it's assessment of his political legacy. His numerous achievements are listed in the credits - but no mention of the failures and the $95 billion in debt the Hawke/Keating government left the country in.
By the end of the film one is left with the conclusion that his pursuit of power had tragic effects on his wife and children, and that although his achievements were great the cost to himself, his family and the nation he led were just as great.
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