Tuesday, 12 January 2010


Now Showing
Roadshow Films

The movie musical has experienced a resurgence in the '00s, kicking off with Moulin Rouge! (2001), and topped off by Nine (releasing here next week). Bran Nue Dae was probably produced for the equivalent of Nine's catering budget but what it lacks in razzle dazzle it attempts to compensate with plenty of heart.

That heart will go a long way in charming audiences who will probably be happy to overlook the film's lack of choreography and, in terms of the movie musical, style. The songs are (mostly) light and catchy and the performances by a veteran Australian cast – Ernie Dingo, Geoffrey Rush, Deborah Mailman and Magda Szubanski, all having fun – help distract from the less convincing performances of singers Missy Higgins and Jessica Mauboy, and leading man Rocky McKenzie.

McKenzie plays Willy, an adolescent in Broome WA, 1969, who is destined for the priesthood, a dream more enthusiastically held by his single mother than himself. For Willy has fallen for Rosie (Mauboy), a local lass with dreams of being a singer which she pursues with another man once Willy heads back to Perth and his studies at a Catholic boarding school, overseen by Father Benedictus (Rush relishing his German accent).

But Willy soon runs away from school, and teaming up with permanently inebriated Uncle Tadpole (Dingo) and a couple of backpackers (including Higgins), he heads back to Broome to declare his love for Rosie, with Father Benedictus not too far behind.

Originally a stage musical, director Rachel Perkins has done well to open up Bran Nue Dae, helped immensely by shooting on location in Broome. It still has an episodic feel as it shifts, some times smoothly others not so, from one song to another, and you may find yourself cringing just as often as you smile.

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