Review / ‘1%’ (MA) ****

Abbey Lee in “1%”.

THIS tale of men (and women) living beyond the outer fringe of Australian society is not a “nice” movie but it is a compelling observation of why they choose it.

Apparently, the title comes from financial industry jargon about how much the boss earns. Apparently, the base threshold is currently in the region of half a mill. It’s the debut feature product from director Stephen McCallum and the second feature by writer Matt Nable. I’m kinda sorry not to have been at the Q&A session when Nable spoke at a recent Canberra preview about what the filmmakers had set out to say. I let what’s on the screen to perform that function.

Early in the film, we met Knuck (Matt Nable) approaching the end of a stretch, relieving inner tensions by sodomising younger inmates. While he awaits release, younger brother Paddo (Ryan Corr) is filling in as president of the Copperheads, a bikie club that hangs out in a well, although not luxuriously, equipped former warehouse where the booze flows like water and blowjobs are on the house. But hard drugs are an absolute no-no.

Club members are a motley crew, shaved heads, faces whiskery to the max, followers rather than leaders, riding big growly motor bikes and nursing social problems. Wearing leathers carrying insignia denoting rank, Copperheads live in their own little world and do no harm to outsiders. How do you join? By invitation and submission to a test of their manhood by still wanting to join after a brutal beating-up by Knuck.

The film tells what happens when Knucky gets out and resumes his leadership position. Sugar (Aaron Pedersen) has ambitions to become president. Hayley (Simone Kessell) who warms Knuck’s bed and another young woman played by Abbey Lee perform clerical, domestic and other female duties at the club.

In 92 minutes, McCallum and Nable deliver a parable about social outcasts, culminating in a credibly-staged battle between Knuck’s mob who want things not to change and Paddo’s mob who want to get rich by being nicer people. The denouement is a cracker. “1%” is certainly not a boring movie.

At Dendy and Capitol

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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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