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Spider and Rose are on the road to Coonabarabran. It's Spider's last day working as an ambo, and he's in a hurry. Rose has been in a car crash and would prefer they take their time. Along the way the two get to know each other and have some adventures neither one had planned.Written by
The end credits play over an argument between Spider and an ambulance driver as to whether Spider should travel in the back of the ambulance. After the final credit, there is a shot of the ambulance driving, with music playing from the radio. Cut to Spider, strapped to a stretcher in the back of the ambulance. He shouts: "Turn that music off!". Cut to black. See more »
"Spider and Rose" dates from 1994, the last year in which the Australian film industry was in anything approaching good health (or in which it looked as though it might have been in something approaching good health). Watch it now and you will immediately sense what's been missing in subsequent productions. For all its weaknesses "Spider and Rose" is, at least, a real movie. It LOOKS like a real movie. Cinematographer Andrew Lesnie has pulled off a miracle in making rural Australian landscapes look good on film, without making them look false; ironically, seven years later, he would later pull of the even greater miracle of making New Zealand landscapes look bad (AND false, in "The Fellowship of the Rings"). Bennett directs with brisk-but-not-too-brisk confidence, without allowing the pointless camera gimmicks he's sometimes unable to resist spoil everything, as he would do three years later with "Kiss or Kill". (Okay, the rapid 180-degree switching we get when Spider first meets Rose DOES ruin that scene completely, but that's just the one scene; perhaps it would have died anyway.)
There are other weaknesses (not once but twice do we get that old chestnut in which someone vehemently declares that he will never, ever, under any circumstances, do X, just before we cut to him doing X; I have now seen this done in movies 683 times, usually with the same sloppiness and pointlessness with which it's done here); but in the end, what makes the movie worthwhile, what makes it satisfying, is that it manages to be continually surprising without once being arbitrary. The "wacky" things that happen to the characters are all justified. Stranger still: Bennett keeps undermining his characters with one-liners (Spider especially; less so Rose; still less so Jack, who seems to CONSIST of one-liners), yet they end up feeling perfectly real.
This film is a gem. Not much of a gem - the common kind of chalcedony, perhaps - but enough of a gem to be worth taking some trouble to find.
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