Review / ‘West of Sunshine’ (M) ***

A RUN-TIME of 78 minutes does not inhibit this low-budget, small-scope film from saying useful things about people and life.

Shot in a variety of Melbourne locations, some of which may have been in Sunshine, writer/director Jason Raftopoulos’ feature debut accompanies courier Jim (Damian Hill) on a day that’s going to deliver to him a choice collection of surprises, some happy, others not.

His job car isn’t working so he has to use his own. His 13-year-old son Alex (Ty Perham) needs a lift to school and isn’t happy about his father’s dalliance with another woman. Jim owes about four grand to a tough criminal who wants repayment today.

And after winning enough at the track to settle the debt and leave a little over, he has been following up by making the classic mistake that many gamblers make – using winnings to chase more winnings.

The film builds its tension as Jim’s day progresses. Alex may be having a day off school but it’s not giving him much joy. Nobody wants to help Jim financially. And his creditor has a pair of low-brainer bullies eager to give Jim a good kicking.

As an example of cinematic creativity, “West Of Sunshine” has good things going for it. It’s credible. It’s truthful. It looks good. Film festivals here and overseas have respected it enough to nominate it for awards and even to give it one. The end of Jim’s and Alex’s day brings mixed outcomes that avoid cliché. What’s not to like about all that?

At Palace Electric and Capitol 6

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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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