Palm Beach (2019) Poster


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A Tourism NSW video
peter-outdoorliving20 August 2019
I really wanted to like this. Some of the great Australian actors, including the luminous Jacqueline McKenzie, together in the one movie. Shame they wasted such talent on such a mediocre script. Richard Grant was tired, the scenarios, relationships and dialogue not believable. On a level with a Home and Away episode, but with better scenery.

This was clearly made as some sort of tourism video; pity that revelation doesn't come till the closing credits. None of the talent shines to their capability, save for the cameraman.
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a slow-moving predictable portrayal of middle-class privilege
CineMuseFilms21 August 2019
Nobody expects originality in the 'old buddy life-audit' genre. Ask any baby-boomer to name their favourite and it is likely that The Big Chill (1983) will pop up as the benchmark film. The structure is always the same: long-time friends reconnect around a milestone event which slowly descends into sub-plots of secrets and discontent, flavoured by a soundtrack evocative of youth and unfulfilled promise. Palm Beach (2019) follows this format exactly. However, instead of reflecting on the youthful idealism of the 1960s, it is set in a modern context of insatiable white middle-class privilege for an ageing group of malcontents, especially of the male variety.

The single impressive feature of the film is the spectacular panoramic Palm Beach setting on Sydney's Northern Beaches, filmed beautifully with lingering shots of every lovely lighting angle the wealthy can afford. The views are complemented by a stellar local ensemble that includes Bryan Brown, Richard E. Grant, Sam Neill and Greta Scacchi, all of whom play such evenly predictable parts that there may be arguments over whether anybody actually stars in this production. The sourness of this ageing cohort (nobody is seen happy) is given light relief with a few young offspring and a couple of sight gags.

The film's entertainment value rests on comic tropes, blended into a potpourri of indignities familiar to the seniors' demographic. These include nostalgia over failed careers and unresolved affairs, depression, drug abuse, sexual impotence, disappearing libido, disputed parentage, wealth envy, sagging bottoms, and even a breast prosthetic thrown to the floor with a rubbery flump. The flat tension curve is given an upward blip with a psychotic episode where the host becomes so incensed that his panoramic views are blighted by a neighbour's chimney that he attacks it with a sledgehammer. The only other moment where viewers' pulse rate might rise is a boating accident that rudely interrupts the enjoyment of views and fine wine. Given the spoilt misery amongst the group, it is laughable when one of the wives suddenly tries to leave her hapless husband but relents feebly with "just promise me that the next ten years will be the best time of our lives".

Palm Beach is pretty to look at, light-hearted and mildly entertaining. It is also slow moving, over-acted, and lightweight. It will probably have a short shelf life and struggle to find audiences beyond the well-off suburbs around Sydney. It could have been so much better.

Director: Rachel Ward Stars: Bryan Brown, Richard E. Grant, Sam Neill, Greta Scacchi
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Can't relate.
eelen-seth6 August 2019
Palm Beach, which premiered as the opening film of this year's Sydney Film Festival, tells the story of a group of good friends who have a few secrets. Those secrets are bound to surface at some point. Why not do it while celebrating a birthday?

Director Rachel Ward co-wrote the story with Joanna Murray-Smith, which tackles some ethical predicaments and feelings that get repressed with (expected) catastrophic consequences. Every year we get a similar scenario presented to us on television or even on the big screen, so why do we keep making these films? The difference with Palm Beach, is that I couldn't sympathise with any of these characters. Rich white people having rich white people problems - can't relate.

That doesn't mean these stories aren't allowed to have a platform to be told, everyone wants to escape their daily life at some point and peek through a window to see what happens behind closed doors. The film takes place in the titular Sydney suburb - blue skies and crystal clear waves everywhere you look. Three members of our group of friends (Bryan Brown, Sam Neil and Richard E. Grant), used to form the band Pacific Sideburns. Their partners and children are also present and ready for a weekend of beachy tranquility.

The evening our friends arrive at Frank (Brown) and his wife Charlotte's (Greta Scacchi) house, Leo (Neill) mentions to Charlotte the pact they formed a very long time ago. Not entirely clear why he recalls this pact so suddenly, this causes the amicable vibe in the house to rise with a few degrees and everyone seems to be feeling this tension. This secretive pact lingers in the background while everyone passes their days behind luscious cheese boards and champagne by the crate, in and around Frank and Charlotte's lush hilltop habitat with panoramic view. A panoramic view ruined by a chimney, which becomes a daily discussion topic that drives Frank to his boiling point.

Cinematographer Bonnie Elliott does a great job showing off the beautiful beaches of Sydney and the nighttime scenes, but when it comes to garden gatherings it all looks a little bit too much like a commercial of some kind. The glossiness makes it look like as if some scenes were shot on an indoor-set, while I'm pretty sure this wasn't her intention. Nonetheless, a great effort that lifted the film to a higher level.

The problems these characters face are nothing but drama on the surface while being comfortable in their day-to-day life - shallow and smug. But like I said before, why tell a story that has been told in different forms many times before, if there isn't a character to relate with or feel sympathy for? The cast does a great job though. There wasn't a single person that I could point out as being a bad actor, neither was there a performance considered to be scene-stealing.

Going in with low expectations, I thought the first half was more interesting than the second. Clocking in at 100 minutes, the film feels a lot longer and without any real stakes, there's no satisfying ending to look forward to. Palm Beach is a film without a purpose and could easily be dropped on a streaming platform, to attract a bigger audience or people wanting to check it out without paying extra for it.
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Too many tall poppy snowflake reviewers
steve-667-101901 September 2019
I can't believe the sentiment on show with many reviewers. Talk about tall poppy syndrome!! Jeez, how many American movies from ALL genres center on wealth or affluent situations? What? Not comfy with it when Aussies do it? You'd no doubt be more comfy if the dialogue was bogan and the setting was Mt Druitt. Imagine "Meet Joe Black" based on a barber from Cabramatta? Get over yourselves you Y (why not me) gen fruit loops! Your problem is; you never learned at school about the price that was paid to create wealth. Self absorption resulted. Then you were engineered by this very media and TV to defy standards that created the freedom you take for granted yet use freely to criticise those who gave it to you. Now, under the banner of feminism ( which ironically diminishes femininity) gay rights and every other agenda you can name, you read between the lines of the most simple premises to find fault. Hopefully the next trend (and that's all you are) will see your demise. Old school isn't necessarily old hat. The world does not revolve around you - shock horror. Now you'll need therapy or to join a support group. Sorry about that.
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A breezy summer fun that focuses on the characters' onscreen chemistry
mjfhhh30 July 2019
Frank (Bryan Brown) is having a big birthday party so he invites his best friends Leo (Sam Neill) and Billy (Richard E Grant) with their spouses and families to his house in PALM BEACH. It doesn't take long for the grudges, old and new, to emerge and the old secrets refuse to be buried. The commotion that rocks the three families threatens to ruin the holiday. What will it take to get things back on track?

Exploring the nature of a true family, that goes far beyond blood relations, PALM BEACH is a colourful portrait of a lifelong friendship with all its outcomes, good and bad, beautiful and ugly.

While the dining table drama-comedy has become its own sub genre in France (Little White Lies, Namesake) and Italy (PERFECT STRANGERS) middle class families rarely take centre stage in Australian film.

Palm beach takes a very Australian approach, avoiding high concept drama, it is breezy summer fun that focuses on the characters' onscreen chemistry. Sam Neill and Bryan Brown celebrate their birthdays together in real life, and it shows. Add a great location, breathtaking views, a catchy seventies soundtrack and you get an hour and a half of a cosy dramedy where jokes are never forced and funny, and the sad moments ring true.

Director Rachel Ward (who is also credited as one of the writers) gives an unexpected depth to a simple story, makes some basic ideas look interesting and fresh, and manages to deliver the point without preaching.

Some films are a remedy and a getaway from real life problems. See this movie. Be this party's crasher. You won't want it to end.
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A Must See!!
suz-0567211 August 2019
OMG, Avalon Cinema was packed for this afternoon's session!! Took me back to the surfing movies we went to see there in late 60's!! And everyone was coming out with a smile ... great honest story, fantastic music, jaw-dropping scenery, stunning cinematography and much loved actors!! Make sure you see it!! 🎥💓🌴
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Engaging, humorous and entertaining adult drama
rayclister11 August 2019
I really do not understand the negative views on this film which I found to have a lot going for it. Intelligent script, good acting and well drawn characters results in a fine film. The cinematography was stunning given the location and although the lifestyle depicted is not something the average Joe would be over familiar with it demonstrates that no matter how well heeled you are, friends and family face problems that all can in some way relate to.
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2 hours of my life I'll never get back
cooperzhutch8 August 2019
Today first day of screening went to see Palm Beach with a family member who was keen have to admit the only Australian movie that is memorable to me is The Castle so wasn't expecting to be blown away and my gut feeling was right it was a story which has been done so many times before with a few tweaks using verteran actors trying to be cool millinials slurping back expensive drinks and gulping down lobster and moaning how they are loosing it with old age the plot cheesy and soap operish and the romantic foreplay scenes with the 60 something's was off putting and I'm no spring chicken to put it plain I would have left by earlier if if been on my own I give it 3 for the scenery and the effort of trying to make something entertaining
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An enjoyable 100 minutes
ross-547-58575416 August 2019
Sure this has been done before, most notably The Big Chill, but this was a refreshing Aussie version. The cast was distinguished and they all contributed to a satisfying and entertaining movie. The plot of old friends getting together over an extended weekend in a beautiful part of the world and then years of dramas in the group bubbling to the surface is not new, but this treatment worked. I enjoyed the revelations and must admit they were sometimes unexpected. The locale was spectacular and I can see why it was supported by NSW tourism. All told I'm glad I saw it. Well done to the team.
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Dares to show male vulnerability
mclartyd17 August 2019
As a whole story this movie could look pretty mundane, but watching individual performances from a stellar cast, this movie will push some home truths to a wide audience. The setting is stunning and will resonate with anyone who has lived or visited the area. Brilliant and subtle direction and great Aussie humour makes this a must see for a very entertaining and uplifting movie.
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Over 60s males, this time it's your turn
DonnahL6 August 2019
10 out of 10 for the cinematography and production design. I love my films to look like tourism commercials, and we don't do enough of that in Australian cinema.

But as a thirtysomething female, the content of this film really irritated me. It's a bit hard to watch a bunch of privileged, egotistical, white male baby boomers sip Dom Perignon in a Palm Beach mansion and lament about their "real-life problems" - even if it is somebody's birthday!

I'm reminded enough of this generation wealth and health gap going to work everyday; this isn't something I want to watch on the big screen too.

Having said that, if you are an older male, then finally someone has made a film for you. There have been a string of films like this for the over 60s women, now men it's your turn!

You can not fault the actual film making, everything is beautiful, and I want to support Australian film, I'm just the wrong target-market.
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The house
dunvr8 December 2019
We used to live at the exact house number used in this Palm Beach movie before the 90s the view remains unchanged and is still amazing. This movie brings back memories, the current house is changed to what was the original house that used to be there. I'm glad they finally made a movie at Palm Beach.
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A great shiny package but little inside .
tm-sheehan8 August 2019
My Review- Palm Beach 6/10

I wish this Australian movie success just because I support our film industry but it wasn't my cuppa tea at all.

It's set of course in one of the most beautiful beach side settings in Australia so it looks splendid but I just couldn't warm to any of these spoiled self indulgent Nouveau riche characters.

The saying house guests are like fish , they go off after 2 days is more than true with these characters , they went off for me about half an hour in to the story and began to wish for a Tsunami to whisk them away. Especially Richard E Grant as Billy an insipid , sarcastic failed musician who taunts the host and mocks his wife.

All the stereotypes of dysfunctional family characters are on display in Palm Beach , the ageing actress , the dutiful but unhappy wife , the spoiled indulged adult children and all the men are in crisis of some sort or another.

The acting is good, the setting is delightful the script is ok but one particular scene involving a chimney demolition and the underlying tension involving DNA identification left me at the end thinking I really dislike these people .

I much preferred meeting The Fockers , at least they were interesting but perhaps unlike me you may enjoy it .

I just thought it was like an enticing chocolate wrapped in gold foil but when eaten, a little bitter and disappointing.
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So many missed opportunities.
bobbsaunders20 August 2019
Desperately tryng to channel "The Big Chill" Rachel Ward lets most of the dramatic opportunities pass her by, instead falling back on tourism images. Yes Palm Beach is fabulously picturesque, I know, I live closeby. But the location became the hero when it should have just been a backdrop necessary to establish that the lead character (Bryan Brown) was absurdly wealthy. After the first few minutes I was groaning at the cliches and wooden direction and wondering if I might just walk out. But it gained some traction by mid film and started to show some glimpses of promise.......but when an opportunity opened up for some depth, the story veered away, leaving us wanting more in vain. Just about all of the seasoned actors looked uncomfortable, even Bryan Brown who co produced it. The only small spark was his daughter, Matilda Brown, who looks uncannily like her mother (Rachel Ward) and has real screen presence, but she needs a better vehicle than Mum &Dads little indulgence of a film.
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Great light hearted movie
melissahmcgrath18 August 2019
Gorgeous Sydney scenery, solid cast, cool little story. Mumma Mia without the annoying outbursts of songs
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Great Aussie movie
bjwhitley2 April 2020
What a wonderful feel-good movie. Loved it. Light hearted, fun, with depth and vulnerability, this movie depicts the ups and downs of family life and friendships. Throw in a happy ending and this movie takes you on an emotional journey and leaves you feeling good. Love that it was shot on the Gold Coast, beautiful scenery. Love also that it's different to any other Aussie film I've ever seen - they tend to be dark and edgy, I like my movies to be more lighthearted, fun and feel-good unless they're thrillers. Kudos to Rachel Ward for bringing us an Aussie movie that hits all the right notes. Pay no attention to the tall-poppy swipers and identity politics whiners in their low-ball reviews. Just because most Aussie movies depict the Aussie battler doesn't mean they all have to. It's good to show all different walks of life and there are plenty of wealthy Aussies living the good life- this movie shows that money doesn't keep drama at bay. Great work.
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A movie length episode of Home and Away focusing on adults.
cameron-whyte8 February 2020
I used to get indignant when people would say "It's alright for an Australian film", however, the more Australian films I see lately, the more I get we don't make the best films.

Set in beautiful Palm Beach (as the title suggests), this movie is about a bunch of people who used to be in a band, along with there current family members, getting back together for a reunion of sorts for their manager's birthday. They all have skeletons in the closet that rattle their bones to make themselves known.

This film feel like it is just a movie length episode of TV soap. However, if you watch it on DVD, then you have no ads and you don't have the musical crescendo to build up to an ad break to keep you interested.

Bryan Brown and Sam Neil are brilliant actors and I like their work as actors, but this film is just a little slow.
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Mama Mia mute version
ks-6050030 December 2019
Nice hose and beach with bunch of 60/70s middle class stories. Like it or not? Not much. But some long familiar face of actor/ess can see in this movie is comforting.
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SafChaleur24 September 2019
So this film is clever in many ways because it appeals exactly to the demographic that like to go to the cinema. The story is about life-long friends who gather together for Frank's birthday and explore some unresolved issues only to solidify their relationships further by the end of the film. The film is similar to many English films that have been it's predecessor but it is set in OZ. Rachel Ward does some nice subtle tricks when directing this film and uses the incredible landscape to full effect. It is almost like a tourism to promote NSW. Great performances all around but what would you expect from the seasoned pros in the film. I found the sound track suited the film but the lack of Foley and layering resulted empty atmosphere. It would have been better to invest some money in sound to compliment the beautiful depth of colour and visual images featured in the film. But isn't sound is always the hardest thing to get right on a movie? The story is pretty basic and we are just voyeurs in the life of the wealthy. Would prefer to see real issues explore by characters the Western suburbs than observe a bunch of wealthy blokes in Palm Beach have a late mid-life crisis. And there lies the problem of the film and story - it is a touch pretentious. Why does Rachel Ward think the audience is only interested in middle-upper class people? Or is it just that this is the environment she understands best? I think it is probably that she thought it would be aesthetically pleasing. The result is a stereotyped approached to a genre that has already been done many times over. There is a formula being applied which does work and it works for people who want to see an Aussie version English films. Still a great effort and many delicate touches by the director. Hope it does well for the team that made it. Congrats.
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