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|4 reviews in total|
This apparently was distributed theatrically, but I think it must have been on a very small scale. It looks to me more like a second-rate telemovie of its undistinguished period. In terms of its story, however, it was before its time. It has not only the first female Australian prime minister, but also an international media baron in difficulties. It might have been timely to show it again, but unfortunately it's not worth watching. Only one element in this very ordinary film made an impression on me: the performance of Edwin Hodgeman as the media baron. I had just seen him in Codgers, in which I didn't like his performance at all, but here he is better directed and shot, and his acting makes such a strong contribution it almost saves the film.
This is an ensemble piece for six men, and looks like it might have been a stage play. It also looks like it was made for some do-gooder organisation and designed to air a couple/three social issues. One of them is aging. Another provides the climactic moment, which is worth waiting for, so I won't say what it is. It looks like a stage play not only in terms of its setting, most of which is in the one interior, but also unfortunately in terms of acting style, which is generally much too big for the story. Rod Haddrick is a fine stage actor, as I gladly remember from my youth, and Edwin Hodgeman is excellent in A Sting in the Tale (Eugene Schlusser, 1989) which, as it happens, I've also just seen, but here Haddrick looks like he's in Henry V, and Hodgeman's part is a caricature. However, there is an outstanding performance to make it all worthwhile. Ronald Falk is brilliant in his complex role, believable and even moving, while at the same time humorous.
At least the title can be partly explained by noting that the film was produced by the Film Corporation of Western Australia, one of its only three films. Jarrah is the name of the eucalypt that grows in southern Western Australia, and the film was originally intended to be shot at Pemberton WA, among the jarrah trees. For reasons unknown to me, it was filmed in Dorrigo NSW. It is said to be the first film based on a Mills & Boon novel, which in this instance was The House in the Timberwoods by Joyce Dingwell, 1959. The first screenplay was written by husband and wife Anne Brooksbank and Bob Ellis, tho Egerton preferred his own version. It was shot in Panavision by Geoff Burton, but I believe never released theatrically, so the exquisite cinematography has never been seen by cinema audiences.
Tiny triumphs in the lives of the two eponymous women, but a major triumph for three other women: the writer, producer and director. Starting with the most recalcitrant of material: cigarettes and beer, kitchens and toilet cisterns, tampons and hyperactive kids, unlucky women and untrustworthy men, the film-makers turn a literally kitchen-sink drama into a reaffirmation of the resurgence of the human spirit in the face of the most annoyingly trivial kinds of adversity. The film has been written with great care (although a good deal of quite realistic vulgarity) the editing is tight, the production design is witty, and the narrative arc comes to a delightful closure.