25 April 2014 | Marco_Trevisiol
Not bad, but badly missing the Bruce Beresford touch
When 'Emerald City' was released, expectations on it would presumably have been high. A quality cast including the underrated John Hargreaves, then young rising star Nicole Kidman and solid acting talent in Robyn Nevin and Chris Haywood.
But even more significant for that was that David Williamson had written it, based on his own play. And Williamson had as much box-office clout as anyone in the Oz film industry at the time, having helmed numerous successful films (sometimes based on his own plays) ranging from Don's Party to Phar Lap.
Alas, when released in 1988 the film was a disappointment as it received little critical praise, minimal box office and was quickly forgotten. Why was this?
What lets it down is that instead of feeling like a film on its own terms, it feels like a filmed version of the play. The theatrical style comes through in the overacting and the lack of a cinematic feel, so therefore it feels like actors acting instead of characters behaving and interacting. As a result the potential impact is muted.
The blame for this is largely at director Michael Jenkins, whose career was largely in TV and it shows. His efforts here pale in comparison to that of Bruce Beresford, who made excellent films out of two David Williamson plays in Don's Party & The Club.
Despite that, the film is worth a look. Being a Williamson play, there are plenty of good lines and scenes with some occasional incisiveness at the artistic milieu the film concentrates on.
The four main actors are all entertaining to watch (although Hargreaves is a bit over-the-top at times), with probably the best performance by Robyn Nevin who makes her character multi-faceted and surprising and convincing.
Overall, a missed opportunity but not bad.