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Life is good for ad man Ruben Guthrie - he leads a party boy lifestyle, has a model fiancée and lives in a house on the water. He's at the top of his game, until some drunken skylarking lands Ruben at the bottom of his infinity pool, lucky to be alive. His mum hits the panic button, and then his fiancée leaves him, but not before issuing him one final challenge: If Ruben can do one year without a drink, she'll give him another chance... RUBEN GUTHRIE is the story of one man not only battling the bottle, but the city that won't let him put it down.Written by
Entertaining and Thought Provoking Comedy With Bite
'Ruben Guthrie' and the titular lead are, as the movie garishly opens, hard to like; but much to this viewer's surprise, by the end of the film, some empathy and affection are afforded them both. I have enjoyed Brendan Cowell's screen work on both big and small, and thought it an inspired piece of casting to have what seems like his doppelganger, Patrick Brammall in the central role. I guess it was more than enough to adapt your own stage play and direct the picture! He has cast an actor with either a brilliant ability to channel the writer/director's life force, or just maybe they are two peas in a pod, Brammall is really finding his position as one of the country's most versatile and likable actors; even here as the at times despicable title character.
The transposing from stage to screen feels fine to me; other than some at times overly heightened dialogue and performance; but I forgave those moments as being part and parcel of the over the top world of advertising and the spin off of partying and excess from the job. Has it been satirized here or made a cliché? Either way, it worked for me. I wondered how Cowell would trace the (anti) hero's journey and conclusion and along the way there are enough surprising moments to keep the viewer connected and rooting for the protagonist. Brammall chews the scenery and is equally adept in the screwball moments as the soberingly tender ones.
Robyn Nevin was fine, as ever, and especially her one to one with 'Ruben' at the bar was a truly uncomfortable scene,and reiteration of why Ms Nevin is one of the most respected and enduring actors in Australia. Harriet Dyer as the hippy chick with her own baggage, was the revelation for me; I was both intrigued and moved by her performance. It was; aside from Ruben, the most fully fleshed of the supporting players. I had a few issues with the writing and oddly pitched performance of the usually reliable Alex Dimitriades; as the gay bestie,but once on the 'Ruben Guthrie' conveyor belt, I was along for the ride; even with its occasional jarring ingredients.
This movie does have a lot to say about substance abuse and makes no easy answers or saccharine summaries to leave the viewer with. There is much texture here, and for me that is attributable to the writing and directing that Brendan Cowell delivers. It's not perfect; nor is the main character - but Patrick Brammall makes him human and flawed - just the way I like my leading characters on screen.
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