Wednesday, 9 December 2009


Reel DVD
Available now on DVD

I’m not sure if it is a question of budget or filmmaking philosophy, but writer-director Matthew Newton’s feature film debut adheres to some of the tenants of Dogma: handheld camerawork, no score as far as I could ascertain with only incidental music, and natural performances driven by seemingly improvised dialogue – a lot of dialogue.

The three protagonists at the centre of this night-on-the-town drama do an awful lot of talking, especially Newton’s Harry, the charmer and self-appointed leader of the pack. In Sydney and on shore leave for one evening before they ship out for a six-month stint in the Gulf, the three sailors – Dean (Toby Schmitz) and Sam (Ewen Leslie) rounding out the trio – have differing ideas about how they should spend their time. Dean plans to meet his fiancé (Pia Miranda) and her parents for dinner, while Harry wants to drink and be merry, which extends to hiring some prostitutes for he and Sam, but without Sam’s knowledge.

Sam, who has recently endured a bad experience at his shipmates’ hands, has other plans: he’s going AWOL. He is aided in this decision by Emma (Gracie Otto), a waitress at a pizza parlour whom he takes a shine to while his mates partake in a backroom poker game. Sam and Emma spend the rest of the film getting to know each other (and his family), while Harry and Dean have to work in a dinner with Dean’s future in-laws while trying to prevent Sam’s desertion.

That’s essentially it as far as plot is concerned. Newton is not so much interested in an overall story arc with Three Blind Mice but more a series of vignettes (set pieces sounds too large for what this film is) providing for some extended walk-ons by a veritable who’s who of Aussie actors: Marcus Graham, Alex Dimitriades, Barry Otto, Heather Mitchell, Jackie Weaver, Brendan Cowell and the late Bud Tingwell.

That said, Three Blind Mice is never less than engaging and even if it doesn’t really go anywhere and is seemingly without a point (and I’m usually a stickler for a point), the performances, particularly of the three men, carry it through. In a great year for Oz films, Three Blind Mice is no masterpiece but it’s not to be dismissed either. Nor is Newton’s emerging talents, both in front of and behind the camera.

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