Dir: Paul Currie. Australia. 2003. 105mins
Telling their tale of a young 'genius' who rejects composing at London's fusty old Royal Academy of Music in favour of spinning the decks at Melbourne clubs and Outback raves, it was essential that the makers of One Perfect Day got the soundtrack right. This they certainly did: the screen pulsates to a throbbing beat, the tracks are by established international talent (much of it original and including the likes of Fat Boy Slim, The Dust Brothers, Orbital, Laurent Garnier and Paul Van Dyk) and the brilliant sound design brings clarity and authenticity to the many rowdy club scenes. There's obviously a huge international audience for such music - so why not for a feature that gets the music right and that treats club culture with an almost religious respect' However, many of the twentysomethings that One Perfect Day is targetted at may be deterred by its earnest anti-drugs melodramatics amid a downbeat story.
The film makes its market premiere at AFM later this month via London-based sales agent Odyssey Entertainment: Roadshow Films has scheduled a Feb 19 release in Australian cinemas.
Nineteen-year-old Australian composer Tommy (handsome, broody Spielman) is searching for "life's secret symphony", digitally sampling express trains and London Underground tramps, while staying in regular phone contact with his singer girlfriend Alysse (Walsman), currently a nurse in a Melbourne hospital. "Trust in a simple melody," she reminds him. But just as he is staging a semi-improvised audition piece for some stony-faced tutors, Alysse and Tommy's bright younger sister Emma (Cornish) are sharing dodgy drugs in a club back home.
Emma's overdose death brings a distraught Tommy home, where Alysse feels too guilty to return to their former relationship, and his grief-stricken single-parent mother (brilliantly touching Armstrong) is unable to give him any solace. Following clues to his sister's death, Tommy experiences the vibrant Melbourne disco/club scene where he encounters new and unexpected musical excitement.
In this heady atmosphere he meets Trig (Phillips), the friendly dealer who supplied Emma's drugs, and Hector (Howard), the excessively rich and smarmy club owner and recording manager who has designs on Alysse. Tommy learns how to mix vinyl tracks at the club, adding his own collection of sampled noises, and soon the restive crowds are roused by the sounds of slowed-down crickets.
Tommy's musical journey gets interesting just as the narrative dives into melodrama. An impressive Outback rave is the backdrop for a final symphony of sound, a coming together of Tommy's classical, improvised and new-found party music.
Paul Currie's first feature for Lightstream Films, the new company he shares with producers Phil Gregory and Charles Morton, is urgently, confidently cinematic. Visually, Currie is a find. But his screenplay (co-written with Chip Richards) is soapy and trite, requiring regular female sacrifices for a don't-take-drugs message which seriously undermines the movie's almost evangelical belief in the "tribal joy" of pounding dance music.
Production co: Lightstream Films
Aust/NZ dist: Roadshow Film Distributors
Int'l sales: Odyssey Entertainment excluding Australia and New Zealand
Producers: Phil Gregory, Charles Morton, Currie
Co-producer: Jason Byrne
Screenplay: Chip Richards, Currie
Cinematography: Gary Ravenscroft
Production design: MacGregor Knox
Editor: Gary Woodyard
Composers: David Hobson, Josh Abrahams, Lisa Gerrard
Main cast: Dan Spielman, Leeanna Walsman, Abbie Cornish, Kerry Armstrong, Nathan Phillips, Andrew Howard