26 April 2004 | rsoonsa
PLOT ELEMENTS TWINED BY ATTENTION TO DETAIL.
The Memory Hole has claimed this well-crafted Australian film that employs the anti-war movement encompassing the Viet-Nam "conflict" as food for its themes and plot, presenting action upon two continents from 1966 until 1982. The screenplay, co-written with bite and taste by Paul Davies and director David Baker, depicts events in the young lives of Niel (Paul Williams) and Eric (Brandon Burke), including their tangled friendship in addition to their relationships with Fennimore (Sigrid Thornton) and Patricia (Judy Morris) in a climate of social and cultural upheaval that marked the period in Australia as it did throughout most of the developed world. Niel is a conservative law student and Eric a rebellious painter as action opens in Ballarat, moves to Melbourne, then to a Vietnamese combat zone, finishing back in Melbourne after 16 years, an obviously large expanse of time to present complex subject matter, but it is successfully accomplished here and with only a moderate budget, to boot. Direction by Baker is consistently inventive from the opening frames, and additionally presents a point of view, combining a polished mise-en-scene with adroit use of montage to portray the struggles of the principal characters in search of moral truths among the chaos that rages about them during an era of international discord. The acting is impressive by all throughout the production, with creative character development allowed by the director, and contributions by specialists are noteworthy, specially from Bruce McNaughton for inventively lit cinematography, Robbie Perkins for his production design and Thornton's arresting apparel, Chris Neal for an artful score, and nearly perfect editing by Don Saunders. There are some shortcomings with continuity, to be expected in a case of such ambitious undertaking, but these are offset by able writing within a neatly balanced script, and some lumpish handling of extras is minimal considering the limited resources available. Many may not recall or be aware of the important role that Australia played in Vietnam, that included drafting of civilians into military service; this is an interesting background for a work that focusses upon the conceits of friendship and romantic love, doing so with imposing technique to a satisfying aesthetic result.