Review of BLINDER

by Simon on March 11, 2013 · 0 comments

You can feel what writer/director/producer Richard Gray is trying to achieve with this story of AFL, mateship and sex scandal, but the clunky structure of the screenplay and the misguided morality of the piece are weaknesses that let the side down despite the presence of Jack Thompson and an enthusiastic cast of talented young Australian actors.

Oliver Ackland in the film Blinder.Thompson plays footy coach Charlie “Chang” Hyde, trying to rally the amateur Torquay Tigers to premiership and possibly launch the careers of a few young stars. The story opens in 2003 with a victory party where the lads are throwing back the booze (and a few pills) and enjoying the company of bikini-clad teenaged girls. Cut to the next day when Tommy Dunn (Oliver Ackland) finds his name smeared on the front page of the local newspaper, along with photographic evidence of what happened later at the party. Move ten years on and Tommy is coaching in America. He ran away from the scandal that clearly harmed a number of people in the small Victorian community, but when he’s forced to return home, he finally gets to deal with what happened that fateful night, and face his team mates, his ex-girlfriend Rosie (Anna Hutchinson) and her younger sister Sammy (Rose McIver), who was 15 at the time.

Gray and his co-writers never work out the core story, alternating between overly long footy sequences of the team working their way their way to the Grand Final, a lacklustre investigation of what actually happened on the night of the incident, and unsuccessful explorations of the many relationships between mates and their girls. The key storyline of Tommy’s unrequited romance with Rosie disappears without a trace, and Coach Chang’s affair with Tommy’s mother vanishes almost as soon as it is revealed. On top of this, Gray’s decision to cut back and forth constantly between past and present makes the narrative an awkward delivery. There are some fine moments of cinematic storytelling, as music, montage and melancholy combine, but the film’s totally ambivalent moral stance towards its own key narrative event – the sexual abuse of a 15 year old girl – is a major oversight. The bad behaviour of boys under the influence is tidily forgotten behind the footy trophies and the firm handshakes of mates digging deep for the team. And what’s with the gratuitous random shots of Australian native fauna? I thought we gave that up in the 1980s.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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