Dir: Daina Reid. Aust. 2009. 107mins
Romantic comedy is a deceptively tricky genre and rare for Australian movies. Peter Helliar’s screenplay certainly attracted decent funding, both commercial and government, and the production values in director Reid’s debut feature are high. But the level of wit is disappointingly low and there’s an inconsistency of tone that fails to marry Apatow-type buddy bawdiness with heartbreak wistfulness.
International prospects will focus on the reliably quirky presence of Peter Dinklage (The StationAgent, Death at a Funeral) and Yvonne Strahovski (three seasons co-starring in NBC’s Chuck)
The movie opens wide in Australia and New Zealand on May 6 after a formidable TV and billboard campaign that will ensure a decent first week. Sales agent FilmNation is taking it to Cannes where international prospects will focus on the reliably quirky presence of Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent, Death at a Funeral) and Australian actress Yvonne Strahovski (three seasons co-starring in NBC’s Chuck).
Jim (Brendan Cowell) is 33, an overgrown child-man who lives with his married sister and drives miniature trains for a living. Along with his chubby mate Blake (writer/comedian Helliar, in his first acting role), Jim seeks girls at local clubs. Improbably, his hangdog look charms Alice (Strahovski), an attractive English tourist. Three years later she wants more from “the worst boyfriend in the world”, and Jim is too dim to properly respond to her “I love you”.
Dumped and confused, Jim meets an American photographer, the dwarf Charlie (Dinklage), who is mourning his late wife while dreaming of towering supermodel Francesca (Megan Gale). Charlie’s heartfelt plight makes an uncomfortable mix with the blokey boorishness.
The overlong movie looks good. Cinematography, editing and music are in the hands of highly experienced practitioners. The cast, especially the magnetic Dinklage, is mainly fine. It’s the script that needed a rom-com masterclass.
Production company: Princess Pictures, Screen Australia, Film Victoria, Roadshow Films
Australia/NZ Distributor: Roadshow Films
International sales: FilmNation, www.wearefilmnation.com
Producers: Laura Waters, Yael Bergman
Screenplay: Peter Helliar
Cinematography: Ellery Ryan
Production Designer: Jennifer A. Davis
Editor: Ken Sallows
Music: David Hirschfelder
Main cast: Brendan Cowell, Yvonne Strahovski, Peter Helliar, Peter Dinklage, Bridie Carter, Travis McMahon, Megan Gale, Steve Bisley