User Reviews (12)

Add a Review

  • Warning: Spoilers
    The premise for this movie is nothing new - death of parent, sons coming to terms with their divided feelings – but director Alan White manages to inject something fresh into the cliche. This is a film that doesn't moralize or preach. It's just about two brothers trying to work out their relationship after their drunken abusive father finally dies of a stroke. Barky, the younger brother, left home, like his mother, to escape, leaving Wace behind, embittered and resentful, to look after their sick father.

    This character film absorbs and irritates simultaneously. The lead characters are convincing and complex, and both beautifully acted, but an inappropriate and buzzingly annoying soundtrack spoils the mood of the piece and the supporting cast is just there to pad out the relationship between the two brothers. Left me wondering if it would have been better as a play, where the overly talky script would have been more at home.

    We don't really discover much about Barky during the movie that we didn't know at the beginning. His character is peculiarly static. The fact that Marty Denniss gives a rich and layered performance but manages to be upstaged is testament to Jackman's dominating screen presence and the depths he brings to Wace's character without overplaying. It is his divided feelings about his father and brother that the movie is about. He is not likeable, but Jackman makes you want to experience his salvation.

    In spite of some scripting inadequacies, this is a movie that you find yourself thinking about long after you leave the theatre, which is probably one good reason for seeing it. The other reason is Jackman.

    Great photography of inner Sydney and not a Harbour Bridge in sight.
  • snello30 September 1999
    Erskineville Kings is another great Australian film. It is about the relationship between two brothers: one who escaped the pace of Sydney and an abusive father to work in the rural north and one who stayed with the father until his dying day.

    Wace (Hugh Jackman), the one who stayed is extremely bitter and towards his brother for 'running away' from everything and takes it out on him on his return for the funeral. It is scripted like a play (I'm not sure if it was before it became a film) and is set mainly in a dingy inner west pub. Even though it is theatre like in delivery it works brilliantly as a film especially the cinematography which presents the rough side of the inner west almost as though it is a tribute to the area.

    Erskineville Kings is gritty, tense and emotionally charged and overall compulsive viewing - 8/10
  • An excellent drama showing typical laconic, dry Australian humour. This is also exhibited in "Mullet". A very good study of unresolved issues between siblings, their loyalties to each other and their parents and the results of parental abuse. Mateship and machismo was dealt with realistically. There was a pervasive atmosphere of loneliness and desolation as shown in the deserted street scenes which added to the desperation of the players.

    The awkwardness and tenderness shown by Marty Denniss' character in the scenes with his girlfriend were very touching.

    Great performances as always by Aaron Blabey and Hugh Jackman.
  • Australian films seem to be going through a surge of neo-realism suburban style. THE BOYS, HEAD ON, PRAISE and now ERSKINEVILLE KINGS. How wonderful it is to see Australian filmmakers looking into their own backyard souls!

    The story premise is a simple one. Barky returns to inner-city home from the bush. His journey is made to attend the funeral of his brutal father. Not only does Barky have the past to deal with but his angry brother, Wace. Together they slug it out, bringing up old demons in hope of organising some sort of stability in life. It is the confrontations that bring you on edge with the surprising powerhouse performance from Hugh Jackman as Wace. Marty Denniss brings sincerity to the character of Barky, a man with a painful past and it's the quietness that draws you to him, waiting for those emotions to explode.

    The direction heightens the unfolding of the story by simply telling the tale with strong images on inner-suburb Sydney as the main focal point to the show down.

    A strong emotional movie made from the hip pockets of the filmmakers.
  • The gripping Erskineville Kings is a great film. One brother returns to Sydney after a long absence in the country. He's there for his abusive father's funeral. Big bro is not happy about his prolonged absence, having been left looking after Dad in his final years. The fact their mother fled her unhappy marriage years ago makes the absence even more painful.

    The film is set on a hot summer day, and, like typical Australian males, the boys head off with a few mates to the pub. After all, alcohol is needed to make these guys open up. The beer, the sticky heat and the awkward reunion makes for an explosive mix.

    The film is as tense as The Boys, but the characters are more rounded than David Wenham's thoroughly evil Brett Sprague.

    This is a film about men and their problems, so the film's sole female lead is a little under-developed.

    A great effort. Hugh Jackman is incredible.
  • sare9916 December 2006
    I can quite happily quote you chapter and verse when it comes to Erskineville Kings because I love this film with fierce intensity. Even though EK has an unconventional feel to it and we are asked to confront some nasty issues along the way, it touched my soul the very first time I saw it and it still has the capacity to create a heavy swell of tension in my chest with each and every viewing, despite the fact I've seen it more times now than the majority of you have had hot dinners! The fact that Hugh Jackman landed the part of Wace, the oldest of two brothers around whose strained relationship the film is centred, is the reason I became aware of EK in the first place, but Wace is a dark, brooding character who spends the majority of this film being totally unpleasant and whilst we come to learn he has his reasons for behaving this way, I for one do not relate to him easily. No, my well-spring of emotion arises from seeing and responding to the plight of the younger brother Barky (played by the screenwriter and actor Marty Denniss) whose quiet personality and passive nature make him seem like a dog that's been kicked too much but which still wags its tail in a vain attempt to please. Dogs are cute and so is Marty Denniss (he easily makes it to prime position in my top 10) and I just want to hug Barky to death whenever he's on screen and stop his humiliation and end his pain.

    I can see why Hugh is particularly proud of this role though because his portrayal of Wace is amazing especially in view of the fact it was his debut feature film. It also never ceases to amaze me how people's reactions to EK vary so widely from those like me who love it with a passion to others I've come across who quite happily admit they have little or no time for it. Is that the mark of a good film or a bad one? I'll leave it to you to decide for yourselves once you've seen it because this review will tell you at a glance exactly which way my vote is cast.
  • Erskineville Kings

    Avoid this one.

    Erskineville is an inner suburb of Sydney near the bottom of the social scale (or at least it was in the 1970s when this movie is apparently set.) Young man returns home on father's death. To greet him are a couple of dissolute mates, a nice ex-girlfriend and a brother eaten up with bitterness after having to look after the old boy in his declining years. Mum shot through many years ago and brother is pretty bitter about that too. Young man was driven out by Dad's drunken violence and doesn't understand why the brother is so hostile. He finds out eventually, but we're past caring.

    One or two good performances, especially Aaron Blabley as one of the noxious mates. The whole thing was too thin even for a short (80 minute) feature and the camera spends too much time slowly scanning the crumbling Victorian buildings of Esrkineville. Maybe it would have worked as a 30 minute piece. As it is, a dead bore.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The first time I watched Erskinville Kings was due to the fact that I am a Hugh Jackman fan, and I was aware that this was his first film. I have to tell you that as soon as it finished I started watching it again, and sat through it mesmerised.

    All the actors in this strong emotional drama give amazing performances, especially Hugh Jackman and Marty Denniss,(who also wrote the screenplay under a pseudonym).

    Each character seems so real, the setting gritty and realistic, the photography superb and the direction excellent. The scenes in the pub seem to get more and more claustrophobic as the film progresses, matching the interplay between the two main actors as their defences come down and hard truths come out.

    The story builds to an emotional and gut-wrenching climax between the two brothers played by Jackman and Denniss, where we find that the younger brother is not the only one damaged by their dysfunctional childhood.

    If you get your hands on the DVD watch the audition tapes of all the actors in special features. The two audition scenes that Jackman plays are stunning and different to how he played the same scenes in the finished film.

    I personally rate this, along side 'The Fountain', as Hugh Jackmans best acting on screen.
  • Bazza-1519 September 1999
    An excellent performance from Hugh Jackman, in his first straight dramatic role after an exalted career in stage musicals, is the only saving grace for Erskineville Kings, the debut feature from former advertising whiz Alan White.

    This is a highly self-indulgent and pretentious piece, filled with laughable nomenclature, savagely stilted dialogue, and the shoddiest technical direction seen in an Australian film for well over a decade.

    I saw this film when it was selected to open the 1999 Australian Film Institute Awards screenings in Perth. Aside from Jackman, who has some chance for an award in a lukewarm year for male actors in Australia, Erskineville Kings will undoubtedly disappear without trace when its cinematic release concludes in about a month's time.
  • A mixed bag of comedy and drama. Hugh Jackman shines and you can see his screen presence straight away. The overall tone is inconsistent, but the story never wanders of the track. The film is slow and the support characters are a little lacking.
  • Right from the word go, this movie is dull, flat and full of poor attempts at atmosphere.

    Jackman's performance is so outstanding compared to the rest of the film it's almost painful to see him leave the shot. Otherwise the film is filled with poorly written, poorly shot performances by actors who seem to be very much aware of just how bad the material they're working with is.

    While this will probably become a cult classic for those who (rightfully) adore Jackman's work, I have to advise that unless your just dying to see more of Hugh, give it a miss.