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While walking to buy cigarettes, the professional dancer Daniel is abducted and raped over many days by three hooded women. When he is released, the director of his company Isabel has already replaced him in the play and his girlfriend gives him a cold reception. The disturbed and humiliated Daniel leaves the dance company and travels obsessed to seek out the abductors. Daniel has sex with many women that he suspects that might be the kidnappers.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The postcard that Daniel sends to Isabel is of Max Dupain's 'Sunbaker' (1937), often regarded as an icon of the healthy Australian man lying in rest. See more »
Written by Mark Jason Saunders and Adrian Thaws (aka Tricky)
Performed by Tricky See more »
Strong stuff, but a weak finish
This is not your typical Australian movie, despite its government funding. It could have come from a European art-house director and its location in Melbourne seems incidental (I think the original book by Rupert Thomson was set in Amsterdam). It is also not a movie for the nervous at times it is very tense indeed and the cutting and soundtrack seem designed to keep the audience on edge. As Daniel the male dancer abducted and sexually abused by three hooded women, Tom Long gives an intense, if slightly monolithic, performance. Daniel's lines give him little scope for expressing his feelings, it is only in dance that he can do that, and the rest of the time he acts rather than thinks. On the other hand his physical appearance dominates the film we are seeing essentially his view of things.
The abuse scenes were not as bad as I had feared, and were relatively short. They were pornographic, I think, only to people like the hooded women. And here's the problem. A handsome heterosexual man captured by three young women and forced to have sex with them? No wonder the cops laugh when Daniel tries to tell them what happened. What is it about Daniel that moves them to do this? He was not chosen at random. He's a fit accomplished young male dancer, someone of physical beauty and grace. Why do these women need to humiliate and degrade him? No doubt the director Ana Kokkinos wants us to ask this question but we are not provided with many clues towards an answer. All we are told by the hooded ones is that "it is for our pleasure". Well, if they are sadists, I suppose it makes sense but I don't think it tells us anything about relationships between men and women generally.
Even so, the whole thing is pretty well done, and we do get a very clear picture of the devastating impact abuse of this nature can have on a person. The revelation, I suppose, is Daniel's loss of both innocence and self-regard. Ana Kokkinos proved in "Head On" that she can mix atmosphere and action though this film is quieter overall. Tom Long gets good support from Greta Scacchi, never better, as his dancing mistress, and Colin Friels gives a quiet and convincing portrait of an understanding policeman ( a very rare beast). As Daniel's girlfriend, Anna Torv's performance is curiously flat her character is underwritten and her impassive good looks convey little but emptiness. Deborah Mailman also puts in a good performance in a small role as the girl who helps Daniel recover from his ordeal. But the portentous (or is it pretentious) atmosphere dissolves to a banal ending, almost on the same level as a "Twisted Tale" (a Channel 9 TV series of mordant but slight stories) the motivation for a routine assault is explained.
The screening I saw was sparsely attended and I don't think this film will do well, which is a pity. Ana Kokkinos is a talented filmmaker and it would be interesting to see what she could do with more mainstream material. Art-house Street can be a bit of a cul-de-sac.
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