"...an ultra-realistic slap in the face that has the form and feel of the best work of British playwright Harold Pinter."
The true force of Australia's co-opting of the English language is still too much for some people - and some filmmakers - to bear. Sure, it's fine if it's buried within the confines of a comedy like Two Hands, but when it forms the vital muscle that holds a film together, you can almost hear the cringes even from an audience that allegedly "loves" Australian cinema. And Silent Partner is one of the most confronting examples of the bludgeoning power of the Australian vernacular ever seen on screen. It's an extraordinary film, and it's sure to cut audiences in half. John (Field) and Bill (Brisbane) are the kind of characters usually ignored not just by the cinema, but by the media in general. They're desperate, borderline impoverished and going nowhere fast. Their life is a haze of booze, cheap speed and cold nights spent at the greyhound races. But things seemingly start to change when the pair are tapped by a mysterious Mr. Big to run a dog for him - the aptly named Silent Partner. But as they fumble and ramble through the scheme, it's bang-obvious that the con is on. Adapted from the play by Daniel Keene, Silent Partner is an ultra-realistic slap in the face that has the form and feel of the best work of British playwright Harold Pinter. The language is aggressive and guttural, and stabs right to the heart of the matter, while the film is sliced down to the barest of essentials. Apart from random background players, Silent Partner is a literal two-hander, driven solely by Field and Brisbane, who give it absolutely everything they've got. These are astonishing performances dragged right from the souls of the two actors, and they brand the film with a gut wrenching honesty and poignancy. The characters may be ragged bottom feeders, but they're also strangely sympathetic in their determination and loyalty to one another. They're unforgettable characters, and Silent Partner is an unforgettable film, bravely and strikingly told in the blaring rhythms of our own voice.
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