20 January 2012 | rettercritical
Above average Australian crime film
I am an Australian and in our country, we are pretty suspicious of our own crime and genre films. There is always something not quite right. they either imitate American cinema, have our local dialogue painfully wrong or just get details totally off the mark. they can also have mediocre production values or poor style and direction. Chopper is perhaps the best Australian film of the Genre. It got the detail right and could be taken seriously. Lately, our TV has been dominated with Australian "true crime" stories such as the Underbelly series. people love the salacious content and real life figures (often dead in real-life from gang-land murders) being depicted on screen. Unfortunately Its pretty crap made for TV entertainment.
The Cedar Boys is a low budget film entry into the genre. I was skeptical going in but its honestly quite a nice little gem.
The film revolves around a few guys in the Lebanese community who deal drugs. One naive guy in the group, motivated by impressing a girl with cocaine and raising cash for his Brothers court appeal, finds a way of getting a cheap stash of drugs. This requires stealing them from another dealer, who isn't home and that is pretty much the set up.
What I liked about the film was it kept things pretty low-key. it didn't go over the top with stereotypes, ramp up any unnecessary drama or action. Its an efficient and mostly tight genre piece that becomes more satisfying and engrossing as it goes along. The protagonist is perfectly alright in the role of the mostly good natured guy going bad but his two collaborators (one cocky the other understated) are really excellent. There are bits and pieces that don't work, shots that are not perfect but the shooting schedule was 26 days and that is a record for an Australian feature film. I think the briskness of the shoot mostly worked in its favor, giving a pretty fresh and organic feel.
What works is the low-budget. The locations are real and the shooting is mostly an effective doco style approach. I didn't like the constant green tones in the colour scheme though. it is a look used in too many films.
As I said the story unfolds and becomes more interesting as things sharpen up to a totally satisfying climax. I enjoyed this film because of being surprised at how well made it was. reading the synopsis, I was expecting a cringe-fest and wasn't going to check it out at all. I switched over to the station it was playing on and it ended up being a worthy experience.
Us Australians love to get the knives out, tearing apart Aussie films and often for good reason but I can honestly say this is worth watching. The secret to these films being successful is often a low budget and being forced to do most of it for real, avoiding clichés and often getting inexperienced actors that already inhabit a look and feel you want. It can bring authenticity which the genre otherwise lacks.