Ellen, a ghostwriter working for the ex-prime minister of Australia Andrew Dugdale, tries to immerse herself in the lives of the ex-pm, his family and associates in a vain attempt at writing his biography for him.
Sometimes uplifting, occasionally depressing - always a bit 'grumpy'
Anything with Adam Zwar's name on it is bound to entertain, whether it's the surreal man-and-his-dog comedy 'Wilfred', his wicked expose of tabloid journalism 'Lowdown', or his 'Agony' documentaries.
For me, 'The Agony of Life' is perhaps the best of the four 'Agony' series. Zwar's artful, probing questions are put to his cast of 'agony aunts and uncles' without placing them on their guard. Zwar, who never actually appears on camera, is friendly and informal, but presumably there's a relentless inquisition going on that we don't see, thanks to the editor's art.
There are parallels with the UK's 'Grumpy old men/women' series, but while some of the participants in the Australian series do have an occasional whinge, mostly they're a happy lot, willing to share their highs, they're lows and all the salient in-betweens. Some might argue they're occasionally too forthright. Certain anecdotes are probably not fit for those of tender sensibilities.
Most of the cast have something poignant to offer the camera. Mirka Mora has a wonderful outlook on life, and still seems to have lots of living to do, even in her eighties. What a tragedy it would have been if she had been shipped off to a concentration camp as the Nazis planned.
It was heart-rending to hear Craig McLachlan's telling of the end of his hopes for all the experiences he looked forward to sharing with his father when 10-year old McLachlan was informed his father had died.
It was genius to have more stand up comedians and comic actors involved, for what is occasionally pretty dark material. But it's always thought provoking. The danger with this series is that it will take a lot longer than four hours to watch the eight half-hour episodes if you're watching with someone else. At intervals you'll stop the disc to discuss a point raised.
I cannot recommend this series enough.
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