Review / ‘Australia Day’ (MA) ***

MIGHT Foxtel be a symbol for the future of our feature film industry? Its frequent presence in director Kriv Stenders’ film (his “Red Dog” is a symbol for the Pilbara landscape and Aussie mateship) is subtle but inescapable.

As a stage for its plot about disadvantaged racial identities, Stephen Irwin’s screenplay pays scant homage to the day of the title. Aboriginal, Chinese and Lebanese characters tell separate stories that ultimately, with some but not complete success, come together.

Highway Patrol senior constable Sonya (Shari Sebbens) is attending a crash in which a teenage girl has died. Sonya, with Aboriginal forebears, feels she has failed by not stopping another girl from fleeing. This is April (Miah Madden), also with Aboriginal forebears, seeking her mother whose life is beset by booze, drugs and indiscriminate moral choices.

Lan Chang (Jenny Wu) is fleeing brothel life when she comes to the notice of Terry (Bryan Brown) who tries to help her.

Yaghoub (Phoenix Raei) is something of a burden to his Lebanese mother. But his brother Sami is a captive of a bunch of Australian youths accusing him of raping one of their sisters.

Terry provides the film’s backbone. He has terminal cancer. The bank has foreclosed on his farm. In town to mend the bridge with his police detective son (Matthew Le Nevez) who’s on another branch of the same case that Sonya is pursuing despite being told not to, Terry has also brought his reliable .303 rifle.

It’s filmmaking that sometimes gets distracted from where it wants to go. Brisbane’s southside provides a challenging location, monotonous suburbia filled by houses of little architectural merit on land that when I lived there was small farms.

It runs for 134 minutes. There was one walkout about a third of that time. I understood why.

 

At Dendy

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