Review / ‘Book Week’ (M) * and a half

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HEATH Davis, producer/writer/director of this 98-minute movie set in the Blue Mountains, has failed to deliver the freshness and variation that distinguish good comedy.

Novelist Nic (Alan Dukes), spending eight unpublished years teaching English to high school students, suddenly finds a publisher interested in his latest manuscript.

All he needs to do is change its zombie theme for a vampire one and the presses will start rolling. Meanwhile, his father is pressing him to donate a kidney, school colleagues have difficulty coming to terms with his behaviour, the winsome principal hasn’t practised effective contraception, a young coloured student is on the brink of a criminal record, the local highway patrol cop has his number as he cycles home, his promise not to break any more promises isn’t working and he is drinking too much for his own good.

That’s just a small list of the issues confronting Nic. Individually, many of them show imagination and the cast performing them does so with gusto. But by denying Nic a feather with which to fly to a more congenial life, Heath Davis has condemned his audience to yearn for a central character desperate to find relief but failing to provide it.

Many years ago, I attended an adult education weekend screenwriting school at ANU. The lecturer said that no producer would pick up my example because its central character lacked any way of being able to escape a grievous predicament. I’m not excusing that failure to project an independent professional opinion on to Heath Davis. But I can’t help wondering what “Book Week’s” long list of crowd funders will think about what their generosity hath wrought.

At Dendy

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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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